Dwight Howard may have sealed his fate as a single-season Lakers player, or offered his team a cold hard dose of reality. Following Sundays (April 28) first-round playoffs sweep, courtesy of the San Antonio Spurs (103-82), Howard was brutally honest about the season.
"It's like a nightmare," he said after the game. "A bad dream. I couldn't wake up out of it. That's what it felt like. It seemed like nothing could go right from the start, injuries and all that stuff, but we can get an opportunity to get some rest for guys who are injured, coming off injuries. A chance to rehab and think about what we can all do to better ourselves."
With a last attempt to win at least one out of four games lost to the Spurs, Howard's frustration manifested on the court. Aside from scoring only seven points, and earning two technical fouls, he was ejected from the game for losing his cool on a ref.
Going forward Howard vowed to try and keep his temper under control. "I've just got to do a better job of keeping my cool. It's an emotional game, and I don't want to lose. Sometimes you don't react the right way."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni sympathized. "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."
Contrary to D'Antoni's supportive tone, the general public (and Magic Johnson) weren't so understanding. Johnson reprimanded Howard in 140 characters or less. "Dwight Howard that was a big No, No. Your teammates and the fans were counting on you."
Rumor has it that Howard will test as a free agent this summer. Citing his "rocky year," the 27-year-old says he's learned "a lot of things" in the last 12 months. "Next year I just got to be mentally stronger to handle a lot of different situations and that's about it."
As Lakers fans close out the season on such a low note, there was at least one cheerful moment during the game: Kobe Bryant made his first public appearance since having surgery on his torn Achilles.
Click below to see some of the Twitter slander invading Dwight Howard's mentions.
Photos: Richard Mackson/USA TODAY Sports/Twitter