Howard ejected, Spurs sweep Lakers
by David Leon Moore, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — Well, we don’t have the Los Angeles Lakers to kick around anymore.
Wait. Actually we do.
The Lakers’ off-season could be as intriguing and challenging as their 2012-13 season was disappointing and dysfunctional.
That season ended with a thud Sunday in a 103-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs that was strange for innumerable reasons — from the odd 4 p.m. PT starting time to the nearly unrecognizable three-guard lineup the Lakers often deployed to the early exit of Lakers center Dwight Howard, who was ejected after drawing his second technical foul with 9:51 left in the third quarter and the Lakers trailing 55-34.
Even before tipoff, there was a palpable aura of surrender in Staples Center. The Lakers knew their was no way this makeshift, injury-depleted roster could beat the disciplined, veteran Spurs, and the unsurprising result completed the four-game sweep of this first-round series.
Tony Parker finished with 23 points for the balanced Spurs, who had five players in double figures and five more who scored. Seldom-used center DeJuan Blair, playing more because of Tiago Splitter’s absence, had 13 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes.
How long ago was the only previous time the Lakers made the playoffs but failed to win a single game? Well, long enough ago that the opponent that swept them 3-0 was known as the San Francisco Warriors, whose leading scorer was a 22-year-old forward named Rick Barry. The year was 1967.
The Lakers have won 11 championships since then, and before this season they were given a decent chance of winning another one given the additions of Howard and Steve Nash to form a supposedly formidable Big Four along with Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol.
But the Lakers began the season with a lackluster 99-91 home loss to the Dallas Mavericks and then careened through a series of dramas and debacles. That included the firing of coach Mike Brown and the hiring of Mike D’Antoni, confusion on offense, an alarming ineffectiveness on defense and injuries to nearly everyone, the big blow coming in the third-to-last regular season game when Bryant tore his left Achilles tendon.