He began his first season here with the Lakers aspiring to reach greatness. Instead, Dwight Howard ended his first season with the Lakers showing shame.
Even before the Lakers’ 103-82 blowout Game 4 loss to the San Antonio Spurs officially ended the team’s disastrous season, Howard already ended his 22 minutes beforehand. Howard earned an ejection with 9:51 left in the second quarter after mouthing off to an official.
“I have to do a better job trying to keep my cool,” Howard said. “It was very tough to be out there playing. It was an emotional game and no one wants to lose. When things don’t go your way, sometimes you react the wrong way. I have to keep my cool.”
Howard didn’t do that.
He earned his first technical with 50 seconds left in the first quarter after elbowing Cory Joseph. Howard earned his second technical after committing his fifth turnover and showing frustration Aron Baynes playing him physically.
Yet, the Lakers faulted more of San Antonio’s tough defense on Howard than the need for him not to snap when the team needed him the most.
“I wished the referee would’ve warned him and told him, ‘Next time you’re out,’” Lakers forward Pau Gasol said. “If they warn you and keep doing it, then you’re out. You deserve to be out. I wish he didn’t get ejected so we could have him out on the floor and he would’ve stuck all the way through with the team. But things happen.”
Yup things happened all right.
Following Howard’s ejection, he shook hands with a few teammates and exited the floor. Nearly a minute later, Kobe Bryant came on to the floor on crutches, earning raucous cheers from the Staples Center crowd. Howard proclaimed he didn’t see Bryan afterwards or notice the crowd reaction. But the symbolism seemed clear.
Howard let his team down with only seven points, eight rebounds and an ejection, while Bryant still supported the team despite a season-ending torn left Achilles’ tendon.
“I’m sure he’s disappointed in himself,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “I felt sorry for him. If you watch the tape, he gets beat and beat hard. It’s a learning experience.”
Howard had collected four technical fouls through three consecutive games. He accused the Spurs’ Tim Duncan and Tiago Splitter of flopping following the Lakers’ Game 2 loss. He routinely griped about the Spurs’ frontline fronting him without any foul calls going his way.
Once Howard left, he didn’t take off his jersey like Andrew Bynum did two years ago. But this hardly seems like he thought he’d become wearing a Lakers uniform.
“This is like a nightmare,” Howard said. “This is like a bad dream and I couldn’t wake up out of it.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org