Lakers outlast Warriors thanks to … Lonnie Walker IV?

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LOS ANGELES – A smile spread across the face of Lonnie Walker IV, a reserve guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

‘It might sound narcissistic or what not,’ he said, ‘but I’m in love with myself and I want to be my best self.’

It was a lovefest for Walker Monday night in front of a sellout crowd of 18,997 at Arena. He spurred the Lakers past Golden State Warriors, 104-101, with 15 points – all coming in the fourth quarter as the Lakers rallied from a seven-point deficit.

LeBron James had 27 points and Anthony Davis had 23 points for the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals. But the hero was Walker, who accounted for 15 of the Laker’s 27 points in the fourth quarter on 6-of-9 shooting from the floor.

‘The game ball definitely goes to him,’ James said. ‘We don’t win without him.’

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Walker opened the scoring in the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, and with 1:53 left he made a decisive shot – a 15-footer that put the Lakers ahead 100-99.

They never trailed again.

‘The greatest feeling you can ever imagine,’ Walker said of his fourth-quarter performance.

This season, he was a starter until December when he suffered a knee injury. In February, when he was healthy enough to return to action, the Lakers acquired Malik Beasley and Walker fell out of the rotation.

‘But he remained a trooper, remained professional, remained high spirited, positive and really kept working on his game and attacking his game every day,’ Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. ‘Really staying locked in on the information, especially during these playoffs up to point where he was able to crack the rotation.’

Curious play by Steph Curry

With 5.4 second left and Golden State trailing 104-101, Steph Curry leapt into the air and corralled a jump ball tipped by Andrew Wiggins. Then he fell onto the court and, although the Warriors had a timeout, threw the ball over his head and out of bounds.

The Lakers inbounded the ball and ran out the clock.

‘I didn’t realize how much time went off when I was in the air coming down, how long I was on the ground,’ he said. ‘I actually felt like somebody was behind me and kind of just let it go. But bang-bang play. I wish I had a little bit more awareness to maybe call a timeout knowing we had enough time.’

Warriors coach Steve Kerr said he was trying to call a timeout, which potentially would have given the Warriors a chance to tie the game with a 3-pointer.

‘He lost the ball so quickly that (we) didn’t get the call,’ Kerr said.

Warriors remain dangerous

The Lakers, despite being up 3-1 heading into Game 5 Wednesday in San Francisco, are expressing reverence Warriors. It sounds genuine, too. After all, the Warriors are the defending champions and won four titles in the past eight years. During that stretch, they reached the NBA Finals six times.

‘I just told the team in the postgame speech, there’s no other team on earth that plays the way they play and puts you in like precarious positions that they did,’ Lakers coach Darvin Ham said, also referred to Golden State as a ‘monster.’

Said James: ‘One thing when you play Golden State, you don’t have an opportunity to relax. You just don’t. So I’m not worried about us going in there comfortable. You just can’t do it versus Golden State. It’s not possible.’

What day is it?

Apparently the playoffs have become a blur for James, who after the game Monday night wondered aloud what day it was.

Addressing how the young Lakers have an opportunity to grow with every game, James said, ‘Tonight was another moment, and then whenever we play, every other day, I don’t even know what today is. Whenever Game 5 is, it’ll be another opportunity for us to grow as a ballclub.’

Good chance the Lakers will inform him soon that Game 5 is Wednesday.

This post appeared first on USA TODAY