HONOLULU — Nothing stood in Julius Randle’s way as he leaped toward the basket.
The Lakers’ forward had an open lane to throw down a thunderous dunk after D’Angelo Russell threw a no-look bounce pass. Randle felt fully comfortable bulldozing his way inside with his brute strength. And he no longer looked limited with a surgically repaired right leg that left him sidelined for nearly his entire rookie season.
But then Utah forward Trevor Booker fouled Randle from behind, sending the Lakers’ forward crashing down on the same leg that he injured nearly 11 months ago. Hence, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant could not leap out his seat fast enough to attend to Randle.
“You damn right I did,” Bryant said following the Lakers’ 90-71 preseason loss to the Utah Jazz on Sunday at Stan Sheriff Center. “If I was fast enough to catch him, I would.”
The incident may have left the Lakers skittish. But it left Randle amused as he recalled thinking “nothing” as he took a fall that sparked gasps among the nearly partisan 10,300 watching in person and the countless purple and gold faithful observing around the world.
“I was fine,” Randle said. “I didn’t think I hurt myself or anything. I came down on my right leg, didn’t I? I think I came down on my right leg. I was more worried about getting back up.”