When the Trail Blazers visit the Los Angeles Lakers Tuesday night in the Staples Center, there will be added pressure on Portland. Consider:
- Portland Coach Terry Stotts designated this game as the final one of three he felt his team had to win in order to built momentum toward a playoff push. But that's already been blown up by Sunday's double-overtime loss to the Detroit Pistons. Which makes this game even more important.
- Resiliency has always been a hallmark of this team, going back to last season. But that will be tested after what must have been a gut-wrenching loss to Detroit. The Trail Blazers must put it behind them in a hurry and take care of business against a Laker team they beat in Moda Center last week. A loss in this one would be devastating.
- The Trail Blazers have played better of late on defense but not quite enough to turn losses into wins. They are playing very hard, which probably makes the losses even tougher to take.
- The battle for the eighth playoff spot in the Western Conference is going to be a free-for-all. The Trail Blazers have 23 losses and no team in the West has more than 26 -- which means that at this point it would be hard to eliminate any of those teams from contention for that final playoff spot. And out of the seven teams below Portland, you have to believe that at least one of them will catch fire in the second half of the season and make a push.
This is a big game.