For the few Laker fans who held out hope for a postseason win, that hope walked into the locker room at halftime after a 14-point second quarter Sunday.
The Lakers were down 52-34 at the intermission. The San Antonio Spurs were slaughtering LA in Game 4 and the sweep was on.
Then, only about two minutes into the second half, Dwight Howard earned his second technical foul and promptly exited the game and the season.
That may be the last time he appears in a Lakers jersey, and considering the way he went out, some fans were reminded of Andrew Bynum’s exit against Dallas.
The big difference: Howard kept his jersey on. Whether that means he will be back in a Lakers jersey come October remains to be seen.
“It was a like a nightmare. It’s like a bad dream, and you couldn’t wake up out of it. That’s what it felt like,” Howard said about his first season in Los Angeles.
About the time Howard was ejected, Kobe Bryant crutched his way to a seat behind the Lakers bench. The crowd rose and applauded at a point when the Lakers were down 58-37 with 8:20 remaining in the third quarter with their “best” healthy player ejected moments ago.
Bryant would even make his way into a timeout huddle, but his support on the sidelines was most poignant with 3:08 remaining in the season and the Lakers trailing by 23 points. That was the moment Pau Gasol walked to the sidelines for the last time this season, and Bryant hugged his tall and lanky friend.
The crowd rose to acknowledge their Spanish sweetheart, and although nothing is certain, it appeared to be a warm heartfelt goodbye from Lakers fans. The Lakers faithful acknowledged Gasol’s time in Los Angeles more than his just this injury-plagued season.
“I am very appreciative and thankful for our fans, for the support that they showed, and their loyalty, and their appreciation that they have for me,” Gasol said about the ovation. “That was nice.”
The Lakers 2012-13 season is over, and exit interviews for all the players are scheduled for Monday and Tuesday. And the team ended the season just as they started it: injured and losing.