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NBA playoffs: Five takeaways from Los Angeles Lakers’ Game 4 win over Warriors

LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers prevailed with a 104-101 win over the Golden State Warriors in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series on Tuesday by relying on a few key ingredients that often ensures postseason success.

They had a breakout performance from LeBron James (27 points, nine rebounds, six assists) and Anthony Davis (23 points, 15 rebounds). They also absorbed a key lineup switch the Warriors made by starting Gary Payton II to ensure a smaller lineup. And the Lakers made key plays in crunch time.  

Below are five takeaways from the Lakers’ Game 4 win that extends their series lead to 3-1. The Warriors host the Lakers for Game 5 on Wednesday in San Francisco for a potential close-out game.

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Lakers made key plays, while Warriors forced the issue

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
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With the game tied at 96-96 with 3:09 left, the Warriors started to unravel. After making a key 3 to give the Warriors a 99-96 lead, Warriors guard Klay Thompson missed his next two 3-point attempts. The Warriors committed three turnovers. And Warriors guard Stephen Curry missed shots from 18 and 30 feet, respectively, in the final 30 seconds.

The Lakers gladly took advantage of these mistakes. James attacked the basket aggressively to draw two separate trips to the foul line and made all four foul shots. So did Lakers forward Lonnie Walker IV, who sank two jumpers and a pair of foul shots in the final 3:42. It shouldn’t be surprising the Lakers made great plays considering James’ experience and the team’s chemistry following the trade deadline. It is surprising, though, that the Warriors unraveled in crunch time considering their championship credentials.

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Lonnie Walker’s break-out performance

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
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Despite falling out of the rotation amid fluctuating personnel, Walker maintained faith in himself both with his play and that he would still have future opportunities. He didn’t disappoint in Game 4.

Walker scored all 15 of his points in the fourth quarter when the Lakers needed them the most. He began the fourth quarter by making a 3. He ended the fourth quarter with a go-ahead jumper (1:53) and with a pair of foul shots (15 seconds left) to help strengthen the Lakers’ lead.

Anthony Davis dominated again

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
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Davis broke the cycle of following up a terrific performance with a dud. He had 23 points on 10-for-16 shooting and 15 rebounds after posting similar numbers in Game 3 (25 points on 7-for-10 shooting, 13 rebounds). Davis also continued to excel defensively with timely stops and rotations.

What’s most impressive: Davis fulfilled this job description despite the Warriors featuring a smaller lineup. That forced Davis to extend further out on the perimeter on defense. With Draymond Green still at center, the Warriors tried to tempt Davis to settle for jumpers. Though he did that at times, Davis also attacked the basket. His aggressive mentality was crucial in the Lakers’ win.

Related: LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and D’Angelo Russell help Los Angeles Lakers blow out Warriors

Warriors spoiled Curry’s strong game

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
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Usually, Curry dominates his game with his stellar outside shooting. Not in Game 3, though. He shot only 3-for-14 from deep. The Warriors needed Curry to have a heroic performance. But he still became impactful in basically every other part of the game by posting his third career playoff triple-double.

Curry still scored 31 points, albeit on 12-for-30 shooting, by attacking the basket often. He compiled 14 assists and facilitated an offense that also featured Andrew Wiggins (17 points), Gary Payton II (15), and Donte DiVincenzo (10) finishing in double figures. Curry became aggressive on the glass to offset the size disadvantage with the team’s small lineup (10 rebounds). And he also played well defensively, yet it wasn’t enough.

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Gary Payton II thrived in his first playoff start

NBA: Playoffs-Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Payton did not appear hobbled whatsoever by any previous injuries or limited playing time in the Warriors’ other post-season games. He finished with 15 points on 7-for-9 shooting along with three rebounds and two assists. He wasn’t on the same page on a few plays that resulted in Green committing two turnovers. But other than that, Payton offered the kind of qualities that made him a valued contributor on the Warriors’ championship season last year.

Philosophically, Warriors coach Steve Kerr made the lineup switch in hopes that the team’s smaller lineup could space the floor, offer better perimeter defense and play at a faster pace. But this might ensure Payton also secures more consistent playing time. It didn’t help that Warriors guard Jordan Poole went scoreless and missed all four shots attempts in 10 minutes.

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