It was another perfect storm for the Lakers in an angry, frothing sea of them this season.
One team needed to win, visions of a deep playoff run bouncing tantalizingly around their players' minds.
The other team was eliminated from postseason possibilities weeks ago, its fan base salivating over more lottery balls at the expense of more losses.
Sure enough, the Lakers fell to the Portland Trail Blazers, 107-77, Friday at Staples Center, the latest sample of Western Conference haves and have-nots.
Jordan Clarkson had 27 points after tucking away his first NBA accolade, the West's rookie of the month for March.
But CJ McCollum had 27 points and Damian Lillard added 20 for Portland, which clinched the Northwest Division title. The Trail Blazers are currently fourth in the West and 2 1/2 games behind Houston and Memphis.
It wasn't entirely a lost cause for the Lakers (20-55). They moved closer to securing the NBA's fourth-worst record because Orlando (23-53) beat even sadder Minnesota (16-60).
Lakers Coach Byron Scott took a peek into the future, envisioning Clarkson a strong part of it, knowing the draft was in June and free agency in July.
"I don't think we're necessarily saying we're building around him, but we'll add pieces with him," Scott said. "Let's add some pieces around him and let's see what happens."
Does one of them need to be a point guard? Clarkson could be moved to shooting guard if necessary despite thriving at the point so far.
"I don't know that yet," Scott said.
Scott did know he didn't like the play of Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill against Portland. Neither got off the bench in the second half after scoring no points in a combined 18 minutes.
"I just didn't like the way Booze and J-Hill were playing in the first half," Scott said.
There were other Lakers' items of note Friday.
Nobody got hurt. Wesley Johnson had 15 rebounds. Relatively young but already well-traveled point guard Dwight Buycks had eight points in his Lakers debut.
Clarkson, though, remained their only player worth detailing in writing.
Surprisingly, he became the first Laker ever to win rookie of the month since the league started handing it out in 1981-82. (The NBA didn't start picking one rookie from each conference until 2001-02, initially choosing only one rookie overall per month.)
It's a good start, the bigger question whether he'll be on the NBA all-rookie team when it's announced next month.
He continued to circle around his first NBA triple-double after averaging a team-high 15.8 points, along with 5.2 assists and 4.8 rebounds in March.
He was three rebounds short Wednesday against New Orleans and totaled seven rebounds and five assists against Portland.
He was also close to another career-high in scoring, falling under the 30 he had last month against Oklahoma City.
Seven games remain for the Lakers, including two in a row against the Clippers, what can easily be characterized as more trouble ahead.