LA’s former starting shooting guard was in fine form on offense.
Thanks to injuries to starting perimeter stars D’Angelo Russell and of course LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers reserve shooting guard Lonnie Walker IV not only returned to the team’s lineup last night, he had a tremendous game against the Memphis Grizzlies in a 121-109 loss.
Across just 22 minutes off the bench, the 6’4″ swingman scored 21 points on 7-of-15 shooting (5-of-10 from deep) and looked like the athletic stud he had been during the first half of LA’s season, before an injury knocked him out of the team’s starting lineup, and a subsequent series of trades for frankly better guards knocked him out of the club’s rotation entirely.
“Just staying in the gym,” Walker said of how he has remained prepared for anything even while out of the team’s rotation. “Controlling what I can control… Just leaving it out there every single day. If I don’t get onto the court, go to the gym. Stay in the gym. Sleep in the gym. Live in the gym. That has allowed me to just be therapy through the ups and downs and understand that it’s going to come back. Just stay ready. You can’t be too high, you can’t be too low, you’ve got to have balance between it all. Just continue to be better than what you were yesterday.”
Walker essentially lost out on the reserve shooting guard gig to Austin Reaves, a better defender and passer if not nearly the same level of athlete, after Russell and Malik Beasley were traded to LA on February 8th. Point guard Dennis Schröder was shifted to a bench role, and Walker was just the odd man out among that newly-constituted reserve triumvirate.
LA will get its next attempt at a win tonight against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and given that the team will possibly be missing even more starters than it was on Tuesday, Walker may very well be required to step up once again for Los Angeles to have any kind of shot.