Tonight when the Trail Blazers head into the Staples Center to meet the Lakers, it has the potential to be a very pivotal game for Portland.
The teams are separated by just a half-game in the standings, with both clubs sitting three games in the loss column behind Houston for the No. 8 -- and final playoff -- spot in the Western Conference. And Kobe Bryant has chosen this time to make the bold prediction that his team will not only make the playoffs but do well once it gets there.
Bryant: It's not a question of if we make the playoffs. We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone -- Oklahoma City, San Antonio, Denver ... whoever. I have zero nervousness about that.
It's all part of a very interesting interview with Bryant by Sports Illustrated's great Jack McCallum and is worth a read, Laker fan or otherwise.
I believe tonight's game is something of a watershed game for the Trail Blazers. If Portland can somehow go into the Staples Center and steal a win, there would be reason to at least keep the dream of making the playoffs alive for a few more games. But a loss would pretty much signal what many of us already believe -- that postseason play this season is just not a realistic vision for this team. Either way, I think playing the Lakers in this situation, with Kobe Bryant making bold playoff predictions, is hazardous. He's still a great player capable of amazing things and when he's put his credibility on the line with a prediction, I'd expect a big-time performance.
Do not forget, Katie Brown and I will be on hand on CSN at 6:30 for Rip City Live, a rare appearance for that show on a road game, and we'll have that game at 7:30. Then, of course, Talkin' Ball follows the game. Ben Golliver and Orlando Williams will join Isaac Ropp and me for that show.