From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: After everything the season brought for Gasol — Mike Brown wanting him to play the facilitator; Mike D’Antoni wanting him to play back-up center; a laundry list of injuries, including a concussion, knee tendinitis and a torn plantar fascia in his foot causing him to miss the most games of his 12-year career — he still chooses to identify himself as a Laker and everything that is supposed to stand for. Being traded from the Memphis Grizzlies to the Lakers made Gasol a champion. It lifted him from being remembered like the Grizzlies’ best franchise player before him, Shareef Abdur-Rahim, as a very good player on a middling team, to a great player on a great team. To Gasol, the Lakers’ lore is real. While Dwight Howard seemingly has struggled to grasp what it means to be the next in the line of great big men following George Mikan, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Shaquille O’Neal, Gasol got it from the get-go, helping the Lakers to three NBA Finals appearances and two rings in his first two-and-a-half seasons. When asked about the crowd’s ovation for him during his postgame news conference, Gasol teared up. “I am very appreciative and thankful for our fans and the support they show and their loyalty and their appreciation that they have for me,” Gasol said.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Dwight Howard‘s final game as a Laker was ugly. San Antonio early on in its series against the Lakers took to the strategy of fouling Howard hard every time he went up for a shot. San Antonio fronted him in the post, was physical in taking away his position on the block, they collapsed on him (which they could do because there were no healthy Lakers guards to really fear), then finally when Howard would get the ball and start to make a move the Spurs would just foul him. Hard. Howard put up decent numbers through the series — 17 points per game on 61 percent shooting with 10.8 rebounds a contest — but he wasn’t the dominant force the shorthanded Lakers needed against the Spurs, either. He got frustrated early in the second half of Game 4, pickup up his second technical, and got ejected. He watched the end of the Lakers season from the locker room. Late Sunday night/Monday morning, Howard took to twitter to apologize to Lakers fans.
From Ben Bolch, LA Times: Staples Center held Pau Gasol in a warm embrace late in the fourth quarter Sunday, as fans stood to applaud when he left a game that had long been lost. Kobe Bryant then rose from his seat behind the Lakers’ bench to tenderly place two hands on his teammate’s shoulders. It was gracias, Gasol. It also felt very much like adios. The power forward who prompted Lamar Odom to exclaim, “The Beatles are back, baby!” on the day the Lakers acquired Gasol in February 2008 probably has played his last game as part of a not-so-Fab-Four. He stayed classy throughout the Lakers’ season-ending 103-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 of their Western Conference first-round series, remaining on the court to congratulate conquerors who had swept him out of the playoffs.
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll:The season has ended for the Los Angeles Lakers after the San Antonio Spurs swept L.A. in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. For the Lakers, it means the organization can finally focus on moving forward instead of trying to salvage a broken present. The 2013 off-season could be very interesting for the Lakers as they prepare for a new season that, hopefully, puts the nightmarish 2012-2013 season in the distance.
From Arash Markazi, ESPN LA: There have been many times over the course of this season when one could have wished to be a fly on the wall in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room, their training room or even the Buss family living room. The moments are far too many to number at this point and in the aftermath of the season just blend together like a marathon showing of “Jersey Shore.” But perhaps the most fascinating moment came Sunday night as Dwight Howard was inexcusably ejected from a game in which he was one of only two players from the Lakers’ regular rotation able to walk. Howard already had received a technical in the first half for complaining about a call, then picked up a second technical a little less than two minutes into the third quarter with the Lakers down 55-34. Many Lakers fans hadn’t even made it back to their seats from halftime as Howard walked back to the locker room.
From Stanley Lee, Lakers Nation: This postseason has most definitely not been what we all expected when this team began their post-All Star break turnaround. The injury bug has bitten the Lakers all year, but the list of hurt players is piling up like never before at the worst possible time. Already missing four guards—Kobe Bryant, Steve Blake, Steve Nash, and Jodie Meeks— in Friday’s humiliating loss to San Antonio, starting forward Metta World Peace now joins the list. After one of the most embarrassing losses in Laker postseason history in which the Lakers fell to the Spurs by a score of 120-89, Mike D’Antoni would once again be forced to trot out one of the worst lineups he has fielded all season—forced to start Darius Morris and Andrew Goudelock against a champion-level Spurs team.