LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles Lakers rookie forward Julius Randle left his NBA debut on a stretcher after injuring his right leg in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night's 108-90 loss to the Houston Rockets.
Lakers Coach Byron Scott confirmed that Randle suffered a fractured tibia.
"It is heartbreaking ... I just told him to stay strong," Scott said. "The last three or four minutes, obviously we weren't thinking a whole lot about basketball. We were just thinking about Julius, and hoping he's OK.""
The seventh overall pick out of Kentucky had his right leg immobilized as he left the court, casting a pall over the Lakers' season opener against the Houston Rockets.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the team announced Randle could undergo surgery Wednesday.
Julius Randle was trending Wednesday on Twitter as fans and players wished him well. See the Twitter remarks here.
The 19-year-old Randle was injured when he collided with two Houston players under the Lakers' basket midway through the final period. He was in obvious pain as the Lakers' medical staff tended to him, eventually immobilizing his leg while Kobe Bryant gripped his hand in support.
"I just told him to keep his spirits up," Bryant said.
Bryant said the team will be there for Randle: "That's what we're here for. We're here to pick him up and get him through it."
Randle was the SEC's freshman of the year while helping the Wildcats to the NCAA championship game last season. He scored two points (on a 10-foot jump shot) in 14 minutes before the injury.