Lakers, Heat move closer to conference finals

by Jacob Fuller

Rob Issa, FISM News

Lonnie Walker IV stayed ready for moments like the final quarter of Game 4.

Walker scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter Monday night to help the Los Angeles Lakers defeat the Golden State Warriors 104-101 for a 3-1 lead in their Western Conference semifinals series.

LeBron James scored 27 points and Anthony Davis added 23 points and 15 rebounds to put Stephen Curry and the defending NBA champion Warriors on the brink of elimination.

The seventh-seed Lakers can advance to the conference finals with a win Wednesday night in Game 5.

“We don’t win this game tonight without Lonnie Walker, that’s for sure,” James said. “As hard as this game was, it’s going to be even harder. We understand that. We know that.”

Walker didn’t even play in the series opener after losing his role in rotation after Los Angels reshaped its roster at the trade deadline. But he has emerged in this series and outscored Curry down the stretch.

“I’m a scorer mentality first,” Walker said. “I’ve 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, the fruition finally came today.”

Curry finished with 31 points, 10 rebounds and 14 assists in his 13th career triple-double for the sixth-seeded Warriors.

“It feels like what it is: (a) 3-1 (deficit). You go home, take care of business, get a win, and the momentum is right back in your favor,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “That’s all it is


In Miami, Jimmy Butler scored 27 points and Bam Adebayo added 23 points to lead the Heat to a 109-101 over the New York Knicks in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals.

The eighth-seed Heat, who beat the Chicago Bulls in a win-or-go-home play-in, are now one victory away from reaching the conference finals for the third time in the last four years.

Game 5 is Wednesday night in New York.

Max Strus scored 16 points and Kyle Lowry chipped in with 15 for the Heat, who defeated the No. 1 seed Milwaukee Bucks in five games in the first round.

“I think the world knows by now that I love that dude to death,” Butler said of Lowry.

He’s a winner. He fits everything we’re about here, he’s so unselfish. Whatever you ask him to do, whether to start or come off the bench, it’s gonna be really really effective because he’s a champion and he’s done it before. He knows what it takes to win. We want him to keep being that, keep smiling, and helping us win.

Jalen Brunson led the Knicks with 32 points and 11 assists, RJ Barrett scored 24 points and Julius Randle added 20.

New York only led twice in the game in the opening minutes. The Heat missed 12 of 15 shots to start the final quarter but the Knicks couldn’t capitalize. They pulled within 99-93 with just over four minutes remaining but couldn’t get any closer.

“You’ve got to win four to win a series,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said. “So, all we’re thinking about is win the next game. Go quarter by quarter. Win the first quarter, win the second quarter, win the third, win the fourth. And then the next day we’ll think about the next day.”

Heat coach Erik Spoelstra recorded his 103rd playoff win to become the third coach with that many playoff wins with one team. The others are Gregg Popovich, who has 170 with San Antonio, and Phil Jackson had 118 with the Los Angeles Lakers and 111 with Chicago.


In other NBA news, two-time MVP Nikola Jokic was fined $25,000 for his interaction with Suns owner Mat Ishbia in the stands during Game 4. Jokic elbowed Ishbia after trying to snatch the ball away from him.

“That’s not an owner in the stands. He’s a fan,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said Monday. “We don’t designate who’s in the stands. I just felt after watching that whole incident, Nikola is just trying to get the ball. I felt the embellishment was almost comical, from my standpoint.”