Howard calls Lakers’ finish ‘nightmare’
by David Leon Moore, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — If it was Dwight Howard’s last performance as a Los Angeles Laker, it was ugly.
He was arguably his team’s best player, and he scored seven points.
His team was supposedly a title contender when the season began. But it was swept out of the playoffs without a single victory, beaten four consecutive games by the San Antonio Spurs.
He was considered a team leader, yet he was ejected after drawing his second technical foul of the game with 9:51 remaining in the third quarter and his team trailing by 21 points.
When it was over, the Spurs beating the Lakers 103-82 to complete the first-round sweep, Howard was asked to assess his first (and only?) season with the Lakers.
“A nightmare,” he said. “A bad dream. I couldn’t wake up out of it. It seemed like nothing could go right from the start.”
Howard was hammered hard around the basket by the Spurs, who preferred to send Howard to the free throw line, where he is relatively inept, to having him make layups or dunks.
Howard, clearly frustrated, drew the first technical for throwing an elbow. He drew the second for arguing.
Afterward, he expressed regret.
“I’ve just got to do a better job of keeping my cool,” he said. “It’s an emotional game, and I don’t want to lose. Sometimes you don’t react the right way.”
If Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni was furious about his best player getting himself ejected, he didn’t express it.
“I hate it for him,” D’Antoni said. “He gets banged up so much in there. He takes a pounding. After a while, I guess his nerves are shot or whatever.”
Howard, who was traded to the Lakers before the season, is now a free agent. He has given mixed signals about whether he would like to stay with the Lakers.
After Sunday’s game, he talked about the Lakers rehabilitating their various injuries and returning for a stronger effort next season.
Asked if that was a sign he wanted to stay in L.A. or if that would be reading too much into his comment, he said, “You’re reading too much into it. … I’m going … [For more on Dwight Howard calls Lakers' finish 'nightmare'; now what?, click here.]