It couldn’t get any worse for the Lakers, trailing Houston in a season opener by 27 points, but then it somehow did. Rookie Julius Randle planted awkwardly on a drive, collided with two Rockets players, sustained a broken right tibia and is probably done for the season, just one of many downers for Lakers followers in a 108-90 loss Tuesday at Staples Center.
1) Steve Nash’s injury woes were somewhat predictable but Randle’s injury was a different story. He was on an upward trend, playing well in the Lakers’ last two exhibition games, but this was a tremendous setback for a franchise with so much riding on him. Phoenix has the Lakers’ first-round pick next season (unless they finish with one of the league’s five worst records) and Orlando has their first-rounder in 2017. Gulp.
2) Kobe Bryant looked only OK in his first game since last December. He had 16 points in the first half but tailed off from there, missing all four of his second-half shots and finishing with 19 points on six-for-17 shooting. He said afterward he felt fine, his refrain throughout this month. “Legs felt good,” he added.
3) Unlucky sevens: Besides Bryant and Carlos Boozer (17 points), the other Lakers starters each scored an unremarkable seven points (Wesley Johnson, Jordan Hill and, in a potentially serious problem if it continues, Jeremy Lin). There’s no way Bryant and Boozer, the oldest players on the active roster, can carry the load all season.
4) Lin needs to be better. He missed four of five shots. His six assists were almost canceled out by four turnovers. No steals. No threes. No kidding.
5) Lakers fans had a good time jeering Dwight Howard but it got awfully quiet after Randle’s fourth-quarter injury. Many people left during the long delay, the Lakers obviously out of the game and the future suddenly looking that much darker.