Lonnie Walker’s two-way breakout game leads Spurs to 2OT victory
By Ethan Farina
Lonnie Walker IV was the hero of the night for the San Antonio Spurs. He had the game of his young career and led the Spurs to a thrilling come from behind victory over the Houston Rockets.
The Houston Rockets came into tonight’s game hot. They were the five-point favorites and had the San Antonio Spurs on the ropes midway through the third quarter. Then Lonnie Walker erupted and had the game of his career. His thrilling breakout game led the Spurs to a 135-133 victory in double overtime.
Walker had seen consistent playing time throughout the game but the early results were mixed. The lessons that Gregg Popovich and the rest of the coaching staff have been trying to impart on Lonnie have clearly taken root. He was giving non-stop effort and impacting the game on both ends of the floor.
His contributions on offense will get more attention but it was the consistently impressive defense that Lonnie played that will continue to drive up his minutes. There are very few players in the league who can go toe to toe with James Harden but Walker did as well as nearly anyone could. He moved his feet well, avoided reaching in more often than not and contested numerous step-back jumpers without fouling.
Walker struggled on offense during the early parts of the game. He missed open layups and was sloppy with the basketball. His energy was contagious and he was frequently making the right plays, he was just unable to finish when it mattered most. Then he caught fire.
After being down 22 at one point, Lonnie and the rest of the Spurs fought their way back into the game throughout the fourth quarter. There were several moments where it looked like the Rockets would put the game away but Walker kept making play after play.
He couldn’t miss and drove the AT&T Center into a fever pitch with every made shot. He singlehandedly outscored the Rockets in the fourth quarter and then delivered the final blow to send the game to overtime.
?TIE GAME ?#GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/KFUdGXi2og
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) December 4, 2019
When he let that ball go there was never a doubt that it was landing home. What a moment for Walker. He’s worked his tail off to get consistent playing time on this team. The fact that Pop showed enough faith in him to let him play through the mistakes, and the payoff that faith had, has to mean so much to both Walker and this whole team. And he wasn’t done there.
Throughout both overtimes James Harden was going straight at Walker, trying to draw a foul on almost every single play. Again, as impressive as Walker’s offensive performance was we cannot overlook the consistency and diligence he displayed on the defensive end in order to contest Harden’s shots without fouling.
Jakob Poeltl and DeMar DeRozan helped the Spurs make it through the first overtime. Poeltl was especially impactful, swatting away shots all night. It fittingly came down to the man of the night, with Walker going to the line with the game in his hand. He hit the clutch free throw and put a cap on the game of the season for the San Antonio Spurs.
An absolutely phenomenal breakout game for Lonnie. He’s made tremendous strides this season and this game is a testament to all of the hard work that he put in, as well as being proof of the type of impact that he can have on this team. He needs more playing time going forward.
The San Antonio Spurs were desperately looking for a spark to help turn their season around. They got exactly what they were looking for in the form of a career game from one of their most exciting young players.