PHOENIX -- Kobe Bryant played the Phoenix Suns here Wednesday ... and, although he's a first-ballot Hall of Famer, he is still but one man. The Suns rolled, and the Los Angeles Lakers have now given up 227 total points in two games this season.
Play of the game: With about 4 minutes left in the third quarter, Bryant drove right. He slashed to the rim and the Suns' collapsed on him. Hanging in the air, with several defenders in his face, and with his team trailing by 24, Bryant looped a pass around a Suns big man and zipped it toward the left wing, hoping a teammate would be ready to fire a wide-open 3-pointer. But no one was there. The pass sailed into the third row. Bryant, who finished with 31 points on 11-25 shooting in 28 minutes, was on his own, on this play and in numerous others throughout the night.
Key word of the night: Balance. Midway through the fourth quarter, Bryant was the only Laker to score in double figures. He has as many field-goal attempts (25) as the other four Lakers starters had combined. The Suns, meanwhile, had six players score in double figures, led by Isaiah Thomas, who scored 23 off the bench.
Stat of the night: The Suns outscored the Lakers 48-12 from 3-point range. Phoenix buried 16-of-32 attempts from beyond the arc, while the Lakers shot just 4-of-13 -- and two of those makes were by Kobe.
Head-scratcher of the night: Lakers forward Carlos Boozer finished with twice as many turnovers (eight) as points, not an easy feat.
PHOENIX -- Isaiah Thomas scored 23 points in his Phoenix debut, Marcus Morris matched his career high with five 3-pointers and the Suns dominated their season opener against the Los Angeles Lakers 119-99 on Wednesday night despite Kobe Bryant's 31 points.
Goran Dragic scored 12 of his 18 points in the third quarter, when the Suns outscored the Lakers 39-24 and led by as many as 29.
Phoenix's Eric Bledsoe had 16 points and nine assists before he drew his second technical foul and was ejected with 30 seconds left in the third quarter.
The Lakers were blown out for the second night in a row, dropping their opener at home to Houston 108-90 on Tuesday night, losing first-round draft pick Julius Randle for the season with a broken leg in the process.
PHOENIX -- Shock. Disappointment. Hurt. Los Angeles Lakers coach Byron Scott said his team felt those emotions and more in the wake of Julius Randle suffering a broken leg that the team expects will sideline the rookie forward for the remainder of the season.
Randle, the team's top draft choice and seventh overall pick in June, suffered the injury midway through the fourth quarter of the Lakers' season-opening loss Tuesday to the Houston Rockets.
"[The] young man obviously has a promising future. We're going to miss him for a little while, but we have to regroup. We have to basically move on, as crazy as it sounds. We have to move on."
Randle had surgery Wednesday, after which the team announced that it was unlikely that the 19-year-old would play again this season
"We've got to realize, he's 19 years old," Scott said. "We don't know how he's going to react. Obviously, he was very disappointed last night and very hurt."
Scott said he expects forward Ed Davis to play more minutes in Randle's absence.
Looking at the footage, Scott said he didn't expect the injury to be that severe. Randle drove to the basket, his right foot appeared to buckle, and he collapsed. After several minutes, he was carted off the floor on a stretcher.
"He got bumped in midair, but it wasn't like he collided with anybody," Scott said. "It just kind of looked like his left foot kind of kicked his right leg and he comes down and he just grabbed his leg. I don't know if it was a freak accident or what, but it was something that just didn't look that bad to end up being as bad as it is."
Randle marks the second Lakers player in as many weeks that the team has said would likely miss the season because of health issues. The Lakers ruled out 40-year-old point guard Steve Nash last week because of recurring back issues.
Keeping morale high, especially amid a season that was already short on optimism, will be a tall task for Scott, who is in his first season as Lakers coach.
"I'm a very upbeat person, very positive, very glass-is-half-full instead of half-empty type guy," Scott said. "So every day that [the players] see me, that's the way that I am. I try to keep that same type of attitude every single day.
"Being the leader of the team, you have to have that type of attitude, because once they see you're a little down or that you're not feeling the same way that they're feeling, being that they're down or up, whatever the case may be, they kind of take their hint from their leader."
Eighteen months later, their future suffered the same fate when lottery pick Julius Randle's right tibia broke 13 minutes into his professional debut.
A day later, the Lakers find themselves on unfamiliar ground. Their title aspirations are gone and, for at least this season, so is their future. What happens next will likely determine the Lakers' success for the rest of the decade.
Randle, the Lakers' top draft choice and the seventh overall selection in June, suffered the injury in the fourth quarter Tuesday night in the Lakers' season-opening loss to the Houston Rockets at Staples Center.
The 19-year old drove to the basket, planted his right foot awkwardly and collapsed. Randle, a former Kentucky standout, remained on the court until he was carted off on a stretcher. He scored two points.
Randle's surgery was performed by Dr. Donald Wiss at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the Lakers announced.
"I didn't get a whole lot of sleep just thinking about the young fella," Lakers coach Byron Scott said Wednesday before facing the Suns. "(I was) talking to him after the game, basically just holding him and listening to him cry and trying to console him as much as possible. It's a tough situation.
"(The) young man obviously has a promising future. We're going to miss him for a little while, but we have to regroup. We have to basically move on, as crazy as it sounds. We have to move on."
Randle is the second Lakers player in as many weeks to be ruled out for the season because of health issues. Last week, the team announced that 40-year-old point guard Steve Nash would remain sidelined because of recurring back issues.
The Lakers' health troubles date back to last season, when their players combined to miss a league-high 319 games because of injury.
It's expected that the Lakers will file for another disabled player exception with the NBA, as they have done with Nash. If granted in Randle's case, the team would expect to receive an additional $1.5 million.
Randle is the Lakers' first first-round pick in seven years, a talented prospect in one of the more touted lottery classes in years. He was also their highest draft choice since the selection of James Worthy
LOS ANGELES -- As Dwight Howard prepared to enter free agency in 2013, his representatives advised the Los Angeles Lakers that their best chance to retain his services would be if their pitch avoided references to the team's glorious past. Howard wanted to hear only what the Lakers could do for him going forward.
They might as well have asked the Lakers to shed their purple and gold colors. The Lakers are inextricably bound to their history. Actually, history isn't the right word. Every team has history, be it good or bad. Few teams in sports have lore, that distinct category the Lakers earned by virtue of their 16 championships and abundance of single-name-identifiable players who could account for an entire floor of the Basketball Hall of Fame.
Take their history out of the mix and the Lakers held no appeal for Howard. He opted for the Houston Rockets, a team with a star shooting guard in James Harden who is 11 years younger than Kobe Bryant.
When Howard returned to Los Angeles on the new season's opening night, the game not only served as a reminder that he made the right choice, but it also turned into a stark truth that the deficit between the Lakers' history and their future has never been greater.
The Lakers went heavy on the nostalgia Tuesday night. They celebrated the return of Showtime -- or one of that era's players, at least -- as Byron Scott manned the sideline for the first time as the Lakers' 25th head coach. They gave fans T-shirts with Scott's No. 4 on the back. Their intro video included an old clip of him dunking. The media guides had a portrait of Scott in a suit, with two images of him in his Lakers uniform in the background.
Bryant, the singular face of the franchise for the past 10 years, played for the first time since December. He wiggled his way free for 19 points in 29 minutes and showed that he can still be Kobe, to some degree. He isn't completely a part of the past yet.
But Bryant isn't in the Lakers' long-term plans. Rookie Julius Randle
LOS ANGELES -- "They don't like each other, simple as that."
The verbal altercation between the ex-Lakers teammates began when Howard grabbed a rebound and Bryant got in his face, trying to contest an outlet pass. Howard threw elbows to clear space, and one appeared to connect with Bryant's chin.
The two, who clashed during their one season together on the Lakers in 2012-13, immediately began trash-talking each other and had to be separated.
"He elbowed me in the face, and I'm gonna let him know, I don't like that," Bryant said after the game. "It's that simple."
After a review, Bryant was assessed a personal foul and Howard a flagrant foul 1, and each player was tagged with a technical foul.
"It's fantastic," Bryant said. "That's the game. That's all part of the game. Elbows are a part of the game. Trash-talking is part of the game. I don't know where the NBA became so sensitive. It's all part of it."
A Lakers source said Bryant repeatedly called Howard "soft."
Howard refused to go into specifics when asked about the incident by reporters.
LOS ANGELES -- The most important aspect of the Los Angeles Lakers' season just vanished.
Kobe Bryant's return was the headline and Byron Scott's homecoming to coach his favorite childhood team was a prominent theme of opening night, but both are more representative of the Lakers' glorious past than their uncertain future. Rookie Julius Randle was the one growth stock, the player to cultivate into the next star.
The Randle project came to an abrupt halt after less than 14 minutes of playing time. Randle went up for a shot, landed on the baseline and stayed down near the basket support while play continued on the other end. When play stopped, Lakers trainer Gary Vitti came out to tend to Randle. Then came a paramedic. Then they brought out the stretcher. Randle was wheeled back for X-rays that showed he had a broken tibia in his right leg.
"It is heartbreaking," Scott said.
There's no official word on the next step (surgery is expected) or an estimated return. The need for a stretcher gave a pretty strong hint.
The present is now paused for the future of the Lakers. Randle is the only player on the roster to whom the Lakers have rights in 2018-19. He and Nick Young (currently sidelined with a thumb injury) are the only players on the books for 2016-17. In sports, hope is the only tolerable alternative to expectations, and at the moment, the Lakers don't have a grasp on either.