It felt like old times again.
1,900 Trail Blazers fans stepped foot in Moda Center for the first time since March 2020, and it wasn’t too long before the building was vibrating from wall to wall. “Beat LA” chants filled every crevice of the 785,000 square foot building.
And in a battle for the sixth seed in the West for the Blazers (37-29) and Los Angeles Lakers (37-29), it felt like the playoffs.
Damian Lillard was hitting from long distance and Norman Powell was savoring the moment in front of his not-so-new fanbase for the first time. Portland had a 34-22 advantage over Los Angeles and held the Lakers to just 38.9 percent shooting from the floor in the first quarter, but not for long.
The Lakers rallied back in the second quarter to cut the Blazers lead to two with 1:28 left in the second quarter. Portland had a 59-55 advantage at halftime with Lillard and Powell combining for 32 points through two quarters.
Following an Anthony Davis three at the 8-minute mark of the third quarter, Los Angeles took a 67-64 lead. After starting the game with 14 points on 5-8 shooting, Davis started finding his groove. The Lakers star notched 11 points in the third quarter and 36 points for the game, but Damian Lillard was unphased and led his team down the stretch with a 38-point outing.
In the final moments, the Blazers edged the Lakers 106-101 to secure the victory and take over the No. 6 seed out West.
The Blazers three-guard lineup of Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum and Norman Powell worked like clockwork. Lillard led Portland with 38 points on 12-18 FG, 5-9 3-PT and 9-9 FT while McCollum and Powell combined for 40 points.
Jusuf Nurkic also added 10 points and 13 rebounds for the Blazers.
Portland had just seven points off the bench at halftime to LA’s 17 points. The Lakers also held an 11-4 advantage in fast-break points after two quarters. The Blazers struggled from three-point range early on, finishing just 8-22 from behind the arc at halftime, while the Lakers shot 7-14.
Trail Blazers fans had a lot of love for their six-time NBA All-Star. Before the first quarter concluded, Lillard drew MVP chants from the Moda Center crowd.
That's how long it had been since Bosnian Beast has taken the Moda Center floor with fans in attendance. His last game in Portland with fans? March 25, 2019.
Portland (38-29) will welcome San Antonio (32-24) for the second night of a back-to-back. Tip-off for Saturday’s game is set for 7:00 p.m. PT on NBCSNW, the official network of the Portland Trail Blazers.