Fans returned to cheer on the Portland Trail Blazers at the Moda Center for the first time since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, and with the victory over the Los Angeles Lakers, it is clear the fans had an impact. According to Aaron Fentress of the Oregonian, the Blazers noticed. Damian Lillard commented on the energy fans brought into the building.
“It was a major, major difference,” Lillard said. “And it was only 10%. I think our energy was better as a team. Our intensity, the energy in the building, everything was just like levels up from what it has been all season on our home court.”
It was also a remarkable night in that Jusuf Nurkic played in front of Portland fans for the first time since breaking his leg in 2019.
“We were all excited,” CJ McCollum said. “I know for Nurk, personally. Two years basically since he’s been playing in front of fans at home. So, I know he was excited.”
McCollum praised the fans for the energy they bring at home.
“Fans always come out, regardless of how well we’re playing,” McCollum said. “They kind of give us energy. We feed off them. They rally us. They help us get stops, they help us get momentum plays. And I think tonight, they were great.”
Lillard said he could feel the fans’ excitement.
“I guess we didn’t realize how bad an empty building was because that felt like a normal game,” Lillard said. “As soon as we came out to warm up, you could feel how excited they were to be there.”
Coach Terry Stotts also said it was noticeable.
“It was outstanding,” Stotts said. “You could really feel the difference. When the players were warming up, starting lineups, ‘Beat L.A.’ It was very noticeable and everybody around the team felt the difference.”
We know of at least one denizen of Rip City that woke up this morning without a voice, so thank you to those fans who were able to attend in person and rally the Blazers to a very important win.