Lakers lose Julius Randle and opener to Houston Rockets, 108-90
Rockets 108 - Lakers 90
The Lakers lost more than their season opener at Staples Center on Tuesday night, as rookie power forward suffered a fractured right tibia in the fourth quarter.
Randle was fitted with an air cast and was wheeled off the court on a stretcher and was later transported to a local hospital. The team announed he could undergo surgery Wednesday, but a timetable for his return was no immediately known.
The injury occurred with 6:46 left in the game, slightly after a tussle between former teammates Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard.
Howard was called for a flagrant foul, elbowing Bryant -- both received technical fouls as Bryant taunted Howard yelling “You’re soft,” and “Try me.”
The Rockets looked like the significantly better basketball team, quashing a few Lakers’ runs to win by 18 points -- leading by as many as 27.
James Harden led all scorers with 32 points, hitting 15 of 16 attempts from the free-throw line.
Howard struggled through foul trouble, but managed a double-double with 13 points and 11 boards. Power forward Terrence Jones scored 16 with 13 rebounds. Trevor Ariza also added 16 points.
Bryant played 30 minutes, scoring 19 points on 6-of-17 shooting. Carlos Boozer contributed 17 points with seven rebounds. Jordan Hill had 10 rebounds but needed seven shots to score seven points.
Ed Davis fouled out with 11 points and six rebounds off the bench for the Lakers. Randle scored two in 14 minutes before going down with the leg injury.
The Lakers shot 35.4% from the field while allowing Houston to hit 42.5%. The Rockets converted 41.4% from long range (12-29). The Lakers hit just 30% (3-10).
A total of 89 free throws were attempted, 50 by the Rockets.
The Lakers (0-1) travel to play the Phoenix Suns (0-0) on Wednesday night. The Rockets (1-0) visit the Utah Jazz (0-0), also on Wednesday.
Rockets 85 - Lakers 69 (end of third quarter)
Dwight Howard picked up his fourth foul just over a minute into the third quarter, heading to the bench with 10:53 on the clock.
The Lakers quickly went on a 12-1 run, led by Carlos Boozer and Jeremy Lin, to get within eight but Houston settled down and pushed their lead back to double digits.
James Harden paced all teams with 30 points, making 15 of his 16 free-throw attempts.
The Lakers got 18 points in 27 minutes from Kobe Bryant. Boozer scored 13.
Houston shot 45.6% from the field through three periods, while hitting 10-of-21 from three-point range (47.6%).
The Lakers hit 36.1% and 37.5%, respectively. Both teams spent a significant amount of time at the free throw line, combining for 60 attempts (Houston’s 33 to the Lakers’ 27).
Rockets 62 - Lakers 45 (halftime)
The Lakers gained momentum briefly in the second quarter, scoring on back-to-back baskets from Carlos Boozer and Jordan Hill.
The Rockets responded immediately, hitting a technical free throw on an illegal defense call, followed by a trio of three-pointers from James Harden and Trevor Ariza.
Down 18, the Lakers reeled off seven in a row to climb back within 11 but the Rockets finished strong with a 17-point lead at the break.
Kobe Bryant contributed 16 points, shooting 6-of-13 from the field. Jeremy Lin went scoreless in 14 minutes.
Harden led all scorers with 22, including nine perfect free-throw attempts. Howard ended the half with nearly a double-double (10 points and eight rebounds) but also three fouls.
The Lakers shot 36.4% from the field and 40% from three-point range (2-5). Houston hit 43.2% and 50% (8-16), respectively.
Rockets 31 - Lakers 19 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers started the year slowly, missing 19 of their first 25 shots, shooting a dismal 24.0% for the quarter.
Kobe Bryant scored six points to lead the Lakers, but shot just 3-of-7 from the field.
The home crowd booed Dwight Howard on every touch, until the former Lakers center picked up his second foul five minutes into the period.
Despite Houston holding a lead, Coach Kevin McHale put Howard back on the floor for the final two minutes of the period while resting James Harden. Howard was able to finish the quarter without a third foul, scoring two points with four rebounds.
Harden led all scorers with 11 points. Houston shot 42.9% from the field.
Jeremy Lin didn’t score in six minutes, with two personal fouls. Rookie Jordan Clarkson’s first basket in the NBA was a three-pointer from the right corner.
The Lakers (0-0) open the season on Tuesday night at Staples Center, hosting Dwight Howard and the Houston Rockets (0-0).
After a 27-55 season, the Lakers hope to bounce back with a healthy Kobe Bryant.
The Rockets (54-28) were a top-five playoff team in the Western Conference, although they have a lot to prove after sending Jeremy Lin to the Lakers, Omer Asik to the New Orleans Pelicans and letting Chandler Parsons leave as a restricted free agent to the Dallas Mavericks.
Houston will finish ahead of the Lakers in the standings this season, but riding on emotion, the home team may pull out the win.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Houston Rockets.
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