Randle was driving past Rockets forward
His entire right leg was in an air cast as teammates helped load him onto the stretcher at
Randle, the seventh overall pick in the draft, is expected to have surgery as early as Wednesday and will probably miss the entire season. He had two points on one-for-three shooting in 13 minutes when he left the game.
"I just told him, 'Keep your spirits up,'" the Lakers'
Randle came into the
Randle backed up veteran Carlos Boozer in the game and was expected to be a rotation player this season.
"We'll help him through this," Bryant said. "He'll come back a better basketball player. That's the goal, is to try to find the silver lining."
Amid all the talk of Bryant's age and injuries before Tuesday's game, something was seriously omitted — analyzing the rest of the Lakers.
Bryant had 19 points and two assists in 30 minutes, only an OK start for him and not nearly enough to offset Houston. His shooting was askew (six for 17) and he struggled at times defensively.
Boozer was the only other Lakers starter in double figures, scoring 17 on seven-for-13 shooting. Jeremy Lin had a rough debut, totaling seven points on one-for-five shooting, with six assists.
Before the game, Bryant hugged
Howard — who famously rejected the Lakers in free agency, signing with the Rockets before last season — picked up his fourth foul early in the third quarter and didn't have much impact beyond 13 points and 11 rebounds. He still has that nagging free-throw problem, missing nine of 16.
Lakers fans stuck it to him from the start, predictably booing him during pregame introductions and also getting really fired up when Howard took a defensive rebound in the fourth quarter and swung his elbows as Bryant pestered him.
Howard pointed at Bryant and yelled at him as referees moved quickly to separate them. Bryant then appeared to say "soft" to Howard.
Bryant was called for a personal foul, Howard was called for a flagrant and they each picked up a technical foul. The Lakers trailed at the time, 99-74.
"I think it's fantastic," Bryant said. "Elbows are part of the game. Trash-talking is part of the game. I don't know where the NBA became so sensitive."
Bryant, though, said he didn't dislike Howard despite their failed season together.
"He's a teddy bear," he said. "You can't help but like him. I really mean that. He's a really nice kid. But when you're competing and you have a goal in mind . . . certain times we don't see eye to eye."
And there's nothing but difficulty ahead for Scott's team, which plays at Phoenix on Wednesday, hosts the Clippers on Friday and is at