The Lakers have surrendered their always long-shot pursuit of San Antonio for best record in the NBA, but there is still a fight for them to position themselves better to pursue their third consecutive NBA title.
The Lakers' four-game losing streak has dropped them into a tie with Boston and Miami, two possible opponents in the NBA Finals. The Lakers learned last season how valuable a Game 7 at home could be, winning that do-or-die game at Staples Center, but they aren't thinking that far ahead yet this time.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson said late Friday night after losing in Portland that the more important thing is that the Lakers return to putting forth proper effort before the playoffs begin.
"These guys just don't want to play hard right now," Jackson said.
The Lakers' final three games are tough home games against Oklahoma City and San Antonio -- then a road game on the second night of a back-to-back set in Sacramento.
TRAIL BLAZERS 93, LAKERS 86: Transition defense has been a problem for the Lakers at times this season, and it certainly was with Portland outscoring them, 16-0, in fast-break points to start the game. The final tally was 20-6.
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