The Los Angeles Lakers were forced to evacuate Moda Center ahead of their matchup against the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday after shots were fired near the arena, according to a report from KOIN 6 in Portland.
The building was placed into a “brief” lockdown in the afternoon after shots were fired. Police told KOIN 6 that the lockdown occurred after “a man and woman got into an altercation inside a porta potty near the ticket office.”
The man reportedly barricaded himself inside the porta potty after firing a shot while the woman ran away from the scene uninjured. Police eventually took the man into custody. Per local police, the Lakers, who were in the building at the time of the shooting, were “escorted to a safe area.”
The situation may have disrupted the team’s regular routine, but it didn’t prevent the squad from pulling out a 107-95 victory over the Trail Blazers later in the night. LeBron James led the way for the Lakers with 35 points, nine assists and five rebounds, and Anthony Davis added 16 points and 14 rebounds of his own. In all, five different Lakers players scored in double figures.
With the win, the Lakers moved to 7-6 on the season and 3-0 in the NBA’s new In-Season Tournament. L.A. currently leads West Group A in the tournament and has one game remaining in group play. It will come against against the Utah Jazz on Tuesday night.
Point differential is used as a tiebreaker in tournament standings, and the Lakers currently have the best point differential in tournament games in the entire league at +42.
The fact that L.A. has played so well in In-Season Tournament games isn’t a complete coincidence. After the team’s win in Portland, James admitted that the squad feels incentivized to perform well in tournament games.
LeBron James on the Lakers’ 3-0 start in group play in the in-season tournament: “We know what’s at stake” pic.twitter.com/VtArGwK22v
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 18, 2023
It’s great that the Lakers have performed so well in the In-Season Tournament, and the league is certainly happy that they appear to be taking it so seriously, though they do need to find a way to bring the same approach in non-tournament games.
The Lakers are below .500 in non-tournament games so far this season, and that’s just not going to get the job done in an extremely competitive Western Conference. When the tournament ultimately ends, the Lakers will need to find another motivating factor, and the sooner they can do so, the better.