The team had already lost the first three games of the 2013 NBA Playoff series against the San Antonio Spurs.
But in game four -- the Lakers' last chance for a comeback -- Howard was ejected for getting his second technical foul. The team was already without Kobe Bryant after he tore his Achilles tendon, and Johnson said Howard had let down Laker Nation by leaving the game.
Laker Nation: Dwight Howard that was a big No, No. Your teammates and the fans were counting on you.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
LN: Dwight, I've been swept before but I never let my team down by getting kicked out of the game.— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Howard was arguably the team's best player and scored seven points. The team was supposedly a title contender but the Lakers were swept out of the tournament without a single playoff victory in a first round sweep by the Spurs.
Howard was ejected with 9:51 remaining in the third quarter and his team trailing by 21 points. His first technical foul was for throwing an elbow. He drew the second for arguing.
By the end of the game, the Spurs had outscored the Lakers 103-82. USA Today asked Howard to describe his first season with the Lakers.
"A nightmare," Howard said. "A bad dream. I couldn't wake up out of it. It seemed like nothing could go right from the start."
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni was less steamed about the ejection.
"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."
LN: Dwight with an already depleted team you couldn't afford to foul out or get kicked out. Having you on the floor … say.ly/Haa5HEZ— Earvin Magic Johnson (@MagicJohnson) April 29, 2013
Howard, 27, is a seven-time all-star and three-time defensive player of the year. He had not completely recovered from an offseason back surgery by the time the season began. This season Howard scored his lowest average total points and average total rebounds since his the beginning of his career.
D'Antoni spoke after the game about rehabilitating team injuries and preparing for next season. Howard is currently a free agent, and has given mixed signals about whether he would like to stay with the Lakers.