L.A. pride on the line for Lakers

Mike Bresnahan covers the Lakers for The Times and ties up loose ends before all their playoff games. The Lakers lead Denver, 3-1.

Forget motivational speeches. Chalk talks too … as if anybody still uses chalk in NBA locker rooms.

The Lakers have all the reasons they need to finish off Denver tonight in Game 5. Two words: The Clippers.

The Lakers don’t want to fall behind their neighbors, who also hold a 3-1 series lead.

That’d be like letting your little brother out-earn you with his highly popular lemonade stand. Can’t happen.

The Lakers are on notice. The Clippers, who have gone further in the playoffs once in the last bajillion years, are right behind you.

Q&A of the day

Q: Not to be too presumptuous but do you know what day Game 1 Lakers/Thunder would be if the Lakers advance in 5 games over the Nuggets?

Bob Anderson, Atlanta

A: Of all the topics after the Lakers took Game 4, this was the most heavily debated among sports reporters. The guessing game began as soon as the shock faded from Steve Blake’s huge shot. Actually, I’m still shocked.

But nobody could figure out whether it would be a Saturday or Sunday start for the next series.

The Lakers are slotted to play Game 7 in the first round on Saturday (like that will happen). Score one for Saturday.

But the NBA loves the Lakers to play Sunday afternoons. And the NBA usually gets what it wants.

I’m going with 12:30 Sunday for Lakers-Oklahoma City. Now back to the Lakers-Denver series.

Final thought

No need to waste time with a Game 5 prediction. If the Lakers lose tonight, they have one big problem. They’re not championship contenders.

The Pick: Lakers.

Bresnahan’s record: 4-0.