Lakers forward Julius Randle breaks tibia in NBA debut

 

Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle suffered a broken right tibia in the fourth quarter Tuesday night against the Houston Rockets.

The seventh overall pick out of Kentucky had his right leg immobilized as he left the court on a stretcher, casting a pall over the Lakers’ season-opening, 108-90 loss to the Rockets.

The 19-year-old Randle was injured when he collided with two Houston players under the Lakers’ basket midway through the final period. He was in obvious pain as the Lakers’ medical staff tended to him, eventually immobilizing his leg while Kobe Bryant gripped his hand in support.

After his own Lakers debut ended somberly, coach Byron Scott described the scene as "heartbreaking."

"The last three or four minutes, obviously we weren’t thinking a whole lot about basketball," Scott added. "We were just thinking about Julius, and hoping he’s OK."

Randle’s injury cast a pall over the night for the Lakers, who are banking on the power forward to become a solid player — perhaps their next star. His right leg was immobilized before his teammates lifted him onto the stretcher, obvious pain on his face, with Bryant squeezing his hand.

"We’ll help him through this, and he’ll come back a better basketball player," Bryant said. "That’s the goal, is to try to find a silver lining in this. He’ll use the time to come back and be stronger."

Randle was the SEC’s freshman of the year while helping the Wildcats to the NCAA championship game last season.