LOS ANGELES - (AP) - Although Lonnie Walker began the season as a starter for the Los Angeles Lakers, he was injured and dropped from their rotation after their roster overhaul at the trade deadline.
Walker didn't fret or complain. He cheered from the bench. Worked harder in practice. He was waiting for his bright opportunity.
And when it arrived, the unflappable confidence outshot Stephen Curry in the fourth quarter of a playoff victory that put his Lakers on the brink of an improbable trip to the Western Conference Finals.
Walker scored all 15 of his points in a tremendous fourth quarter and the Lakers took a late 3-1 second-round series lead with a 104-101 victory over the Golden State Warriors on Monday night.
LeBron James had 27 points and Anthony Davis had 23 points and 15 rebounds for the seventh-seeded Lakers, who moved one win away from knocking off the champions with their eighth straight home win since March.
Los Angeles surpassed Curry's third career triple-double in the postseason largely due to Walker, who has had a seismic impact in returning to the Lakers' rotation in this series. He went 6 for 9 in the fourth quarter, starting with a 3-pointer on the opening possession of the period to cut Golden State's lead to four points.
After sitting out Game 1, Walker contributed nine points in Game 2 and another 12 in Game 3. His rise in this series was a shock to most, but not to Walker or his teammates.
"I'm a scorer first mentality," Walker said. “I got a lot of confidence in myself. I know what I'm capable of, and after a lot of sacrifice and a lot of time in the gym, it finally paid off today."