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Former Canes Star Lonnie Walker IV Comes Up Huge as Lakers Take 3-1 Lead Over Golden State

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In the most crucial game for the Lakers so far this season, the Lakers relied not on Lebron James or Anthony Davis to propel them to victory, but on former Canes basketball great Lonnie Walker IV. Walker exploded in the fourth quarter for 15 points as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 104-101 and have now taken a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Walker has been a solid role player for the Lakers as he averaged 11.7 points/44.8%FG/and 36.5 3P%/85.8 FT% for the year. The numbers tell a tale of a solid contributor whose ability to hit, score and shoot the three has allowed the spacing necessary for Lebron James and the Lakers to operate. Yet in the playoffs, Walker has been overshadowed by other players, ever since the trade deadline, where the Lakers acquired D’angelo Russell, Jarred Vanderbilt, Rui Hachimura and Malik Beasley. Another role player who blossomed this year is Austin Reaves, whose play has been so good that he is now a starter as a rookie on a team that seems to be the favorite to win the Western Conference.

Despite the attention shifting elsewhere, Lonnie Walker has stayed ready. Walker has always worked hard and overcome adversity, even in his early years in college. When he committed to the University of Miami, he tore his meniscus before his freshman season but was still able to contribute averaging 11.5 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.9 assists per game. Walker was drafted by the San Antonio Spurs and eventually signed with the Lakers as an unrestricted free agent in 2022. Despite other names garnering attention, Lebron James had some wise words for Walker during the playoffs “I’ve been telling him. I said Lonnie, stay ready. We going to need you at some point.”

With the Lakers down 84-77 to start the fourth quarter, in a crucial game four that would have allowed Golden State to tie up the series and regain home-court advantage, Walker hit a huge three to cut the lead to four. He would give the Lakers the lead on a jumper with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter and answered the Warriors charge led by Steph Curry and Klay Thompson with big shots throughout the rest of the quarter. Then with 1:53 remaining in the game, Walker hit a 15-foot jumper that gave the Lakers the lead a lead they wouldn’t relinquish. In the end, after two clutch Anthony Davis stops of Steph Curry, Walker got the game sealing rebound and hit two free throws that gave the Lakers their 104-101 victory.

With his 15 points, Lonnie Walker IV joined Kobe Bryant as the only Lakers bench player to have 15+ points in the fourth quarter off the bench. According to NBA History, it happened exactly 26 years ago to the day. Commenting on his performance afterwards, Walker stated “I’ve been doing this for 24 years of my life. I’ve always been in the gym and nothing’s ever gonna change… The harder you work, the more sacrifices you make, the better the outcome.” That hard work, and professionalism that Walker has displayed throughout his life , has now paid off and allowed the Lakers to be within one win of the Western Conference Finals.

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