And so ends the most disappointing season in franchise history.
The Los Angeles Lakers' miserable 2012-2013 season was mercifully put down tonight, as the San Antonio Spurs finished off a dominating sweep, 103-82. LA continued their final game of the season in the same fashion they've become accustomed to for the past three years now: a double-digit blowout and an embarrassing ejection.
There were few highlights in a rather quiet near-20 point loss, with the second seeded Spurs masterfully dissecting LA's skeleton crew of D-Leaguers, washed up vets and injured rotation players. No one in white and black played more than 29 minutes, with coach Gregg Popovich being able to sit his stars for much of the game. Tony Parker was remarkable once again, scoring the easiest 23 points imaginable, while the rest of the Spurs 80 points were fittingly parsed out between the rest of the squad.The intensity on both sides seemed non-existent, as if both sides were resigned to a Lakers loss before the ball was even tipped. LA was lifeless for large stretches, with the guard play nearly as ineffective as it was in Game 3. Steve Blake, Steve Nash, Jodie Meeks, Kobe Bryant and Metta World Peace all sat out for the Lakers, leaving Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to get triple and sometimes quadruple teamed in the paint. Right after the final buzzer, Tony Parker looked almost distressed about the past week's events, telling TNT's David Aldridge that it felt "weird" to be sweeping the mighty LA Lakers.The game had a distinctly ceremonial vibe, with players going through all the motions of a mandated 48 minute game, but understanding full well that this meant the end of the playoffs for the purple and gold.
The stat sheet itself is rather deceiving--the Lakers shot 47% and actually out-rebounded the Spurs, but 21 turnovers (including 10 from Gasol and Howard, who were mauled in the post on every possession) dictated the game. Pau did the best he could in perhaps his last game as a Laker, putting up 16/8/5, playing valiantly in the absence of all his All-Star teammates. Including Dwight Howard.
The Lakers center was tossed with 9:51 left on the clock in the third quarter, earning his second technical needlessly after getting tangled up with substitute center Aaron Baynes. He left the game playing 21 minutes, scoring 8 points and grabbing 7 boards, but as awful as Dwight's season has been, this could have been the low light of the 2012-2013 campaign. TNT cameras caught him barking in the direction of GM Mitch Kupchak on his way to the locker room, but at this point it's unclear who he was talking to or what he said. Fans and writers certainly didn't need much more fuel going into a summer in which Howard hits restricted free agency, but it seems that ever the showman, Dwight has stoked the flames with an even more ignominious ending than anyone thought possible.
In the end, it's hard to call a sweep at the hands of the team with the third best record a disappointment or a disgrace. Chris Duhon played 43 minutes tonight. The top five rotation wings all sat out with injuries. Andrew Goudelock took 17 shots. The list goes on and on. It was a torturous game to watch, but ultimately, the Lakers simply lacked the talent and experience to even make this a challenge against a Spurs team that is peaking at the right time and looks to be as healthy as they were all season. Disappointing? Yes. Disgraceful? Other than Dwight Howard, no.
There are dozens of questions heading into the summer, but no need to get into all of them now. Rest assured, we'll have no shortage of coverage here at Silver Screen & Roll. From the whole crew, we want to thank everyone for sticking with us through a...fascinating season.
--Follow this author @TheGreatMambino