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Boston Celtics’ Gordon Hayward fractures ankle in season opener

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CLEVELAND – Boston forward Gordon Hayward sustained a fractured left ankle on an alley-oop attempt in the first quarter of Tuesday’s NBA season opener in Cleveland, which was also his Celtics debut.  

After the game, a 102-99 Cavs win, Celtics coach Brad Stevens confirmed Hayward suffered a dislocated ankle and a fractured tibia. He was headed back to Boston Tuesday night and then going straight to the hospital. 

The horrific injury, which occurred at the 6:45 mark of the first quarter, looked severe with Hayward’s leg and ankle turned in an unnatural position. Hayward’s leg was immobilized, and he was carted off on a stretcher.

Players immediately called for medical attention once they saw Hayward’s leg.

Hayward, who signed a four-year, $128 million contract in the summer and joined his former college coach Brad Stevens in Boston, had two points before the injury.

Celtics players huddled on the sidelines, and concerned silence filled Quicken Loans Arena.

Cleveland’s LeBron James pulled his jersey over his face when he saw Hayward’s leg and shook Hayward’s hand as medics wheeled the Celtics star off the court.

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The injury is devastating for the Celtics, who signed Hayward and acquired Kyrie Irving to challenge the Cavaliers and win the Eastern Conference championship.

With the Utah Jazz last season, Hayward averaged a career-high in points (21.9) and shot 47.1% from the field. He also averaged 5.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists and shot 39.8% on three-pointers and made his first All-Star team.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Jeff Zillgitt on Twitter

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