Suddenly, pressure is on L.A.


INGLEWOOD, Calif. -- Portland's Buck Williams, the man who promised the Trail Blazers would return to the Forum for a Game 6, has decided to make another pledge.

Williams vows that the Blazers will beat the Los Angeles Lakers tonight (9 p.m., Ch. 2 after Orioles game) -- with or without injured forward James Worthy.

"We're going to make a stand in the Forum and bring the series back to Portland for Game 7," Williams said. "Los Angeles has its work cut out. All the pressure is on the Lakers to end the series."

Portland trails in the Western Conference finals, 3-2. The team is just one loss from elimination.

The Blazers, however, have taken their situation and turned it around, saying the pressure is on the Lakers to close out the series at home.

"I think Buck is just saying what everyone on the team feels," Portland's Clyde Drexler said. "I think all of the pressure is on L.A. Everything they've done can be negated in Game 6.

"Every game has been pressurized, but they don't want to come back to Portland for a Game 7. It would not be an ideal situation for them."

The last team to overcome a 3-1 deficit was Boston in 1981. After the Sixers beat Boston in Game 5, the players began to talk trash. They said if the Celtics didn't close them out in six, they wouldn't close them out.

The Trail Blazers don't talk trash. But after beating the Lakers in ,, Game 5, they did begin to apply the theory the Celtics used so successfully 10 years earlier.

"They don't want to come back to Portland," Blazers guard Terry Porter said. "I think it would be very tough for them to lose at home, then come back and win Game 7."

It would be even tougher if the Lakers don't have Worthy, who won't decide if he can play until tonight's tipoff.

Worthy suffered a sprained left ankle in the first quarter of Tuesday's loss. The team's leading scorer made three trips to the locker room during the game to have the ankle taped. Finally, he was taken out five minutes into the third quarter and didn't return.

Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy made practice optional for the players yesterday. Worthy spent the time in the trainer's room receiving treatment.

"It's getting better and better," Worthy said.

Dunleavy said it might take a miracle for Worthy to be ready for Game 6. The Blazers don't think it will take anything that dramatic.

"Yeah, right, I believe that one," Porter said. "His ankle would have to be broken for him not to play. If he can crawl, he'll be out there."

Lakers teammate Byron Scott agreed.

"If it's at all possible, he'll play," Scott said. "That's just his nature."

Dunleavy would lean toward playing A.C. Green if Worthy is unable to play. He also refused to label tonight's game "as a do-or-die situation" for his team.

But even Scott concedes that the pressure has shifted to the Lakers. He said Los Angeles can't afford to lose the homecourt HTC advantage it earned by stealing the first game of the series in Portland.

"Without a doubt, Game 6 is do-or-die for us," Magic Johnson said. "We certainly don't want to go back to Portland.

"No way."

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