Coming off Wednesday's 126-121 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Lakers are feeling the heat as they try to stay in the play-in tournament.
Speaking to reporters after the game, Russell Westbrook called Sunday's game against the New Orleans Pelicans "definitely a must-win" for the Lakers.
The Lakers did play against the Sixers without LeBron James, who was dealing with soreness in his left knee.
Wednesday's loss was Los Angeles' 18th in its past 25 games. The team is 31-42 overall and ninth in the Western Conference standings.
The Pelicans trail the Lakers by one game in the win column and are set to open a three-game homestand Thursday that culminates with their showdown against the Lakers.
Even though the Pelicans will be playing at home, Los Angeles will have the advantage of rest going into the game. Sunday's game will be the second half of a back-to-back for New Orleans after playing the San Antonio Spurs (29-44) on Saturday in another game that has significant play-in tournament implications.
It's unclear at this point wheter James will play against the Pelicans. He averaged 38.7 minutes per contest in the Lakers' previous eight games before he sat Wednesday. The four-time NBA MVP was putting up 33.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 7.0 assists per game during that stretch.
Los Angeles lost its only previous meeting against the Pelicans this season (123-95 on Feb. 27). The two teams will meet for the final time at Crypto.com Arena on April 1.
The NBA play-in tournament will be held from April 12-15. The No. 9 seed hosts the No. 10 seed, with the winner advancing to play the loser of the No. 7 vs. No. 8 game to determine the conference's final spot in the playoffs.