Lonnie Walker IV: ‘It Felt Like A Dream’ To Impact Lakers’ Game 3 Victory Over Warriors
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonnie Walker IV has been on the outside looking in at the team’s rotation ever since the trade deadline. He has had some great moments in limited minutes, and another one of those moments came in the Game 3 victory over the Golden State Warriors.

Walker played 24 minutes during the 127-97 blowout win, including some legitimate minutes in the first half before garbage time began. Walker finished with 12 points on 4-for-6 from the field with four rebounds and two steals. He was a plus-10 on the night, one of six Lakers with a double-digit plus-minus.

Walker had been patiently waiting for an opportunity like this to present itself, and it went about as well as anyone could have expected.

“It felt like a dream,” Walker said. “I’ve been talking about being able to be in the Playoffs, to play in some type of atmosphere like that. I had the time of my life, I can’t explain it. Just taking it day to day and being ready.”

Walker went into what allowed him to be successful and gain such a quick rhythm after largely being on the bench for the last month or longer.

“Understanding the game plan and staying disciplined. Understanding who you’re guarding — K.Y.P., know your personnel. Being on the sideline for so long, I’ve learned so much from hearing (LeBron James) and hearing (Anthony Davis) and (D’Angelo Russell). There’s so much knowledge on the court and I’ve just been a sponge consuming it. I’m just happy that it’s slowly starting to transition to the game once I got the opportunity to play. I just take it day to day.”

Perhaps the most pivotal moment of the game was when the Warriors took a 40-29 lead midway through the second quarter. In that moment, the Lakers turned to LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell, Austin Reaves and Walker to make the comeback.

They did so in grand fashion, going on a 13-0 run as a unit before a sub was finally made, taking out Walker for Rui Hachimura.

“When you’re playing against the Warriors, you can’t look down,” Walker said. “You’ve got to value every single possession. I think we looked at each other and understood we had to take it up a whole other notch as far as physicality on the defensive end.

“Our defense transitioned to our offense. When we play defense, our offense is just flowing like magic because we have so much offensive power. We understood what we had to do. We locked in as a family, as a team.”

Walker’s performance in some big spots on Saturday night may have earned him a spot in the rotation moving forward, at least for the rest of the Warriors series. He seems to fit well in this series as a spark-plug who has made some leaps defensively.

Game 4 will be an interesting litmus test for Walker’s minutes, as there likely won’t be as much garbage time and the Warriors will be even more desperate for a win than the Lakers as they attempt to avoid a 3-1 deficit in the series.

James confident in Lakers defense

James agrees with Walker that the Lakers’ success starts on the defensive end. And after their Game 2 blowout loss, he wasn’t concerned about things on that end of the court.

“We still are. That doesn’t change. We’re still the best defensive team in the league, if not one of them. So that doesn’t change. That’s what we hang our hats on.”

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