(LOS ANGELES) — Even without Kobe Bryant, the Los Angeles Lakers still find themselves just one win away from a trip to the postseason.
Dwight Howard scored 26 points and grabbed 17 rebounds to lead the Lakers to a 91-86 win over the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday night. The win increased their lead to 1 1/2 games over the Utah Jazz for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
“It definitely gives us confidence that if we play as hard as we did tonight, we can beat anybody,” said forward Pau Gasol, who had seven points and 16 rebounds.
The Lakers (44-37) were playing in their first game without Kobe Bryant, who will miss the remainder of the season after undergoing surgery Saturday to repair a torn Achilles tendon.
San Antonio (58-22) made a late run to get back into the game but came up short. They are battling the Thunder for the top seed in the West.
Los Angeles will play the Houston Rockets on Wednesday night and will clinch a playoff berth if they win.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Billy Hallowell, Deseret News
James Hanlon, CNN