Well, there's not many positives that can be taken away from the L.A. Lakers' ugly 103-82 loss to the San Antonio Spurs.
The only real highlight for the Lakers in this awful Game 4 was when Kobe Bryant hobbled out into the stands behind the team bench in the third quarter to give the Lakers faithful something to cheer and get excited about.
While this wasn't exactly a game highlight, listening to some fan heckle Manu Ginobili and Matt Bonner was entertaining, especially considering the Lakers weren't in this one really at any point.
The Lakers' awful playoff series aside, the San Antonio Spurs really showed everyone why they are now the easy favorites to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.
One of the biggest highlights for the visitors was Ginobili's massive throwdown over Dwight Howard.
They started the game on a 13-4 run, and they never let off the gas. In the first quarter alone, the Lakers committed eight turnovers, which was as many turnovers the Spurs committed all game.
In addition to their atrocious 21 turnovers in the contest, the usually trigger-happy Lakers didn't even put up a single three-pointer in the first quarter, ending the night just 5-of-17 from beyond the arc.
Tony Parker led the way for the Spurs, absolutely owning the Lakers with 23 points, four rebounds, three assists, two steals and not a single turnover committed in 26 minutes of action.
Kawhi Leonard put together an impressive game as well, with 13 points, seven rebounds and three steals to lead the Spurs on the defensive side of the ball.
Pau Gasol was the Lakers' leader on the floor, with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but he also committed five turnovers and couldn't stop a dead fly on the defensive side of the ball.
Watching the Lakers and Spurs "battle" it out, it was clear that the Spurs were simply the better coached, more efficient and much more disciplined team.
Howard just couldn't handle the disciplined and tenacious defense of San Antonio. As one of the most athletic and strongest centers in the game, Howard has to get used to getting beat up in the paint. And as you can see in the video below, apparently Aron Baynes knows how to get under his skin.
San Antonio now moves on to face the winner of the Golden State Warriors and Denver Nuggets series, and they'll most likely have at least a week of rest leading up to their conference semifinals series.
The Purple and Gold are headed in an entirely different direction. After an extremely disappointing and injury-riddled season, the Lakers front office is going to have to make some very important decisions with aging players currently filling up their roster.
Mitch Kupchak needs to decide if he's going to offer Howard a max contract, if he'll bring back Gasol (who is under contract for another season), and how he'll find actual talent already handicapped by their current cap situation.
The Spurs have won a first-round series for the 13th time in the Gregg Popovich era, and they certainly crushed the Lakers in impressive fashion.
If you're wondering just how ugly of a game this was, just ask Howard how he felt about getting posterized by Ginobili in the first half. Maybe that's why he didn't want to play the entire game.
Ginboli just Mozgoved D12..never thought would write that sentence in that order..— Bill Plaschke (@BillPlaschke) April 28, 2013
The Lakers lacked a lot of things in this series, but more than anything injuries severely limited their depth—a problem the Spurs didn't have to deal with:
The Lakers don't even have 10 players. RT @espnchrispalmer: Spurs used 10 players in the 1st quarter. Now that's depth.— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 28, 2013
A 34-point first half wasn't the ugliest part of this game for the Lakers, but it certainly was a factor in the series sweep:
Best thing about that first half: it went quickly.— J.A. Adande (@jadande) April 29, 2013
Aside from Bryant coming out to try and will his Lakers to victory in the second half, the biggest highlight was when Howard got thrown out. Could this be the last time we see Howard in a Lakers jersey?
That could very well be the last shot of Dwight ever wearing a Laker jersey, too. Unbelievable.— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 29, 2013
Dwight had had enough of this game, this series, this season ... and of being a Laker? Knew he was a tech away from ejection. Got it.— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) April 29, 2013
After Howard's ejection, it appeared that he had some choice words for Kupchak. You decide if Howard was barking at him or someone else, although I don't know who of value would've been at that location on the court for D12 to yell at aside from Kupchak.
Tracy McGrady even played over five minutes in the fourth quarter and even dished out a nice assist to Baynes.
Congratulations to Tracy McGrady for finally getting past the first round of playoffs!— NBA Legion (@MySportsLegion) April 29, 2013
Amazing ovation from Laker fans for Gasol as he checks out for possibly the last time. Love you, Pau. Oh so much.— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) April 29, 2013
Gasol got a standing ovation when he left the court in the fourth quarter. It's a shame that Mike D'Antoni couldn't figure out how to get him and Howard to work together better in his offense.