LOS ANGELES -- The talk among those Los Angeles Lakers who made it to the Great Western Forum for yesterday's optional practice was about pressure of two sorts.
The questions were asked, and the Lakers shrugged. Is all the pressure on the Lakers? Opinions varied. How much pressure can forward James Worthy's sprained left ankle withstand? Outwardly, uncertainty reigned.
"I don't know one way or the other," Worthy said when asked whether he would be able to play tonight, when the Lakers attempt to eliminate the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals at the Forum.
With a victory, the Lakers would advance to the NBA Finals, which would begin Sunday in Chicago.
If they lose, the Lakers would face a seventh game in Portland on Saturday afternoon against a team that would be trying to become the fifth in NBA history to overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a playoff series. The significance of tonight's game, Worthy said, will enter into whether he plays.
"It's a different situation than in the regular season," Worthy said. "This definitely goes into the decision-making. I'm the only one who can make that decision."
Lakers trainer Gary Vitti termed Worthy's injury a mild to moderate sprain. "In my mind," Vitti said, "we haven't ruled him out, but we haven't ruled him in yet, either."
Worthy walked out of the Forum -- without a limp -- shortly before noon yesterday after his ankle was treated. X-rays were negative.
Worthy wasn't the only Laker hurt Tuesday. Forward Sam Perkins, who suffered a bruised left thigh in the third quarter of the 95-84 loss at Portland, also received treatment yesterday. He is expected to play tonight.
Lakers coach Mike Dunleavy said he is planning for the game as though Worthy won't play, but he wouldn't say who would receive the extra minutes, though some combination of A. C. Green, Terry Teagle, Mychal Thompson and Elden Campbell seems likely.
"It's going to mean somebody else will get more time," Dunleavy said. "Somebody else will have to step in and give us a lift."
The Blazers, however, have little doubt that Worthy will play.
Dunleavy attributed Tuesday's defeat to poor shooting -- the Lakers led by three points at the half but hit just 12 of 35 second-half shots -- and the Blazers' 52-33 rebounding margin. He certainly couldn't credit the Blazers' shooters, who hit just 40 percent of their field-goal attempts.
"It was as simple as we didn't knock down shots," Dunleavy said.
First, it's Orioles
Channel 2 will televise the Baltimore Orioles vs. the Boston Red Sox tonight at 7:30, joining Game 6 of the NBA Western Conference finals in progress after the Orioles game. NBC's coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers-Portland Trail Blazers game begins at 9 p.m., and Washington's Channel 4 will carry the telecast in its entirety.