The NBA season was finally underway in Los Angeles for the Lakers as they took on the Houston Rockets Tuesday night. However, nothing went as planned. Not only did the Lakers get blown out, but they lost rookie forward Julius Randle to a broken leg.
James Harden got off to a quick start, drawing fouls on multiple Lakers players. Harden scored 11 of his 32 points in the first quarter, while Dwight Howard found himself in early foul trouble. The Lakers were struggling to find a basket in the quarter, with Kobe Bryant doing most of the scoring.
With very little defense and poor shooting on offense, the Lakers went down 19-31 at the end of the first period.
More of the same continued in the second quarter for Houston. They grew the lead to 17 behind Trevor Ariza, Harden, and Howard. Ariza kept knocking down timely three pointers. He cashed in five from downtown in this game.
Terrence Jones had a double-double at halftime with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Harden had 22 points and five assists as the Rockets owned a 62-45 lead. Kobe Bryant had 16 for the Lakers.
The Lakers came out playing slightly better in the third quarter. Jeremy Lin and Carlos Boozer came alive as Boozer scored a quick eight points, while Lin was penetrating the defense and finding his teammates. The Lakers cut the lead down to seven, but a James Harden and-one play pushed Houston’s lead back up to 10.
The Lakers were never able to inch any closer as they found themselves down 16 at the end of the third.
Houston kept pouring it on in the fourth, extending its lead to 26. At the 7:07 mark of the game, Dwight Howard and Kobe Bryant got into a bit of an altercation. Howard swung his arms and caught Bryant in the jaw, and the two started trash talking at each other. Both were hit with a technical, and Howard received a flagrant one. After that short scuffle, both players went to the bench, ending their night.
Then at the 6:46 mark of the game, the worst thing happened to the Lakers. Julius Randle went down to the floor, holding his leg. After the play was stopped, Lakers athletic trainer Gary Vitti went over to take a look at Randle’s leg. Randle was in extreme pain and asked to be taken off the floor on a stretcher. Randle’s teammates were surrounding him with disappointment written on their faces. TNT’s Rachel Nichols confirmed that Randle broke his tibia and will be taken to the hospital for possible surgery.
The Lakers had a terrible season last year, which gave them the seventh overall pick in the draft, and that turned out to be Randle. Unfortunately, the 19-year-old hurt himself badly in his NBA debut and may miss the entire season.
The Lakers would go on to lose the game 108-90. James Harden’s 32 was a game-high. Ariza and Jones followed suit with 16 points apiece. Jones also added 13 boards, three assists, two steals, and two blocks. Howard finished with 13 points and 11 rebounds. Harden and Howard combined to shoot 32 costless throws, 16 each. Howard hit 7 of his 16, while Harden knocked down 15.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers in his official return to the floor with 19 points. Carlos Boozer put in 17 points and seven rebounds, and Ed Davis, the only other Laker in double digits, scored 11. Lakers shot an abysmal 35.4 percent from the field, while Houston shot 42.5 percent. The Rockets torched the Lakers from beyond the arc. They were a plus-27 from that distance. The Lakers were also out-rebounded 36-47.
The Lakers will be back in action tomorrow, October 29, against the Phoenix Suns. The Rockets will also be in action tomorrow as they take on the Utah Jazz at the Energy Solutions Arena.
Kobe Bryant looked terrific in his return but received little help from others. The Lakers were dreadful on offense and were unable to play defense without fouling. Losing Randle is going to hurt big time, as the Lakers continue to battle numerous injuries early in the season. They will have another tough game tomorrow in Phoenix.