LOS ANGELES—Los Angeles Lakers rookie Julius Randle suffered a broken leg on Tuesday night and exited the game against the Houston Rockets on a stretcher in the fourth quarter.
Though the extent of the injury wasn’t immediately known, it was severe at first glance. TNT sideline reporter Rachel Nichols was the first to confirm via the Lakers’ bench that the ailment was indeed a broken right leg.
The 2014 seventh overall selection made a strong move to the basket late in the fourth quarter and had his right leg buckle beneath him as he went to the ground in obvious pain. He stayed down for several minutes as his teammates surrounded him.
Though there has been no official word from the Lakers, Nichols’ report came immediately after trainers used an air cast to stabilize Randle’s leg before his Lakers teammates lifted him onto the stretcher. He was then transported by paramedics to a nearby hospital, where he will undergo further examination to clarify the injury.
If a broken leg is indeed the case, a timetable for return would be a minimum of six to eight weeks. But given Randle’s size at 6’9 and 250 pounds, he could be out much longer.
The Lakers were already in garbage time of a blowout loss to the Rockets. The long-term absence of their top future prospect in such gruesome fashion adds further sting to an already-spoiled opening night.
The entire Lakers team, especially Kobe Bryant was visibly shaken by the injury.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Scott said after Tuesday’s 109-90 loss to the Rockets. “I saw him all summer and all the work he was putting. I saw the progression he was making and the steps he was making to get better. In the first game he goes down, and I don’t think anybody in that locker room is happy about the way we played but we were probably more sad because we lost one of our young guys.”
His teammates expressed their support for Randle as he navigates through this newest hurdle in his young career.
“I told him to keep his spirits up and not to think about too much right now,” Bryant said. “It’s something that you have to learn to deal with. Sometimes life’s circumstances put in you position that you have no choice, but to handle it that way. Julius is not going to have no choice. We are not going to let him get down from this. He is going to come back strong.
“I think what this franchise has always been good about doing is surrounding the young players with players who’ve come before and he has a great cast around him from myself to James Worthy and A.C. Green and Magic (Johnson). We’re all there. We’ll help him through this. He’ll come back a better basketball player.”
Rockets center Dwight Howard also echoed similar sentiment for Randle.
“I’m sorry to see what happened to Julius,” Howard said. “I think he’s going to be a tremendous for this team and I hope he has a speedy recovery, and I’ll pray for him.”
Photo Credit: Mike Stobe/Getty Images
Watch below video of Randle’s injury: