There’s nothing quite more gripping in the NBA than playoff basketball. After a grueling six-month regular season grind, teams now need to win just 16 games to reach the mountaintop. This is an incredibly difficult endeavor that requires the strongest of wills, and other players have even admitted to the postseason lights being too bright for their own good. But this doesn’t seem like it will be a problem at all for Lonnie Walker IV, who emerged from a string of DNPs to become the Los Angeles Lakers’ hero in their dramatic Game 4 victory over the Golden State Warriors.
Walker, despite not attempting a single shot attempt during the first three quarters, came alive when the Lakers needed him the most. He scored 15 points on an efficient 6-9 shooting from the field, providing the Lakers with exactly the offensive boost they needed to stand one step closer to dethroning the reigning champion Golden State Warriors.
But interestingly enough, according to the Lakers’ official Twitter account, this is not the first time that a Lakers bench player has scored 15 or more points in the fourth quarter of a playoff game. The late great Kobe Bryant was the first one to do so, scoring 17 points in the final period back on May 8, 1997 — exactly 26 years ago to this day — to help the Lakers claim a 104-84 victory over the Utah Jazz in the 1997 NBA playoffs.
However, the more experienced Lakers fans know how that series turned out for the Purple and Gold. Bryant wasn’t yet the dominant force he was going to become, and the rookie proceeded to have the worst on-court moment of his professional career in Game 5 of that series against the Jazz.
No one will ever forget Kobe Bryant shooting multiple airballs in the clutch, sealing the Lakers’ five-game series defeat.
Of course, the circumstances behind Lonnie Walker IV’s heroics are different. Walker’s didn’t come in a blowout, unlike Bryant’s, and the Lakers have taken a 3-1 series lead over the Warriors as a result, unlike the Lakers in 1997, who took their lone game of the series following Bryant’s fourth-quarter explosion.
Lakers fans will now hope that Walker manages to string together these sorts of games more often as they go deeper into the playoffs.
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