Kobe-less Lakers Beat Spurs 91-86

The Los Angeles Lakers were deemed to be in big trouble after losing Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles tendon last Friday, but they are off to a great start without their superstar as they beat the San Antonio Spurs 91-86 Sunday night. Dwight Howard led the way with 26 points and 17 rebounds.

Howard dominated in the paint against the Spurs as the Lakers are now 2 1/2 games ahead of the Utah Jazz for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Howard’s 17 rebounds added to his NBA league leading average of 12.4 boards a game.

The two teams were knotted at 43 at halftime and the game remained tight throughout the third quarter. The Lakers finally took control in the fourth quarter when they went on a 15-4 run that held up for their fourth straight win.

Steve Blake filled in for the injured Steve Nash at point guard and played his best game of the season when the Lakers needed it most. Blake finished with 23 points, five rebounds, and four assists in the crucial win.

Antawn Jamison was also impressive in the Lakers win, as he finished with 15 points and six rebounds off the bench. Nine of Jamison’s 15 points came in the fourth quarter as the Lakers came through in the clutch down the stretch.

Jodie Meeks started in place of Kobe Bryant and finished with eight points, four rebounds, and four assists. The 25-year-old was great defensively for the Lakers and made about as much of an impact as you can when you are replacing one of the greatest of all-time.

Bryant had successful ACL surgery on Saturday and is required to stay off his feet for the next few weeks, but the surgery didn’t stop him from tweeting about his teammates after the huge win Sunday night :

Bryant also showed his respects to Dwight Howard on twitter for his performance and revealed that Howard is more than just a teammate by visiting the Lakers’ superstar twice in the hospital.

Bryant has a reason to be excited as the Lakers are just one win away from the NBA playoffs after a roller coaster start to the season. The Lakers were up and down to start the year and fell out of playoff contention before storming back into the race in late March.

The Lakers can also clinch the final playoff spot in the West if the Jazz lose another game. Utah beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 107-100 on Friday and face them again on Monday before finishing the regular season on the road against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Can the Los Angeles Lakers clinch a playoff berth in the final week without Kobe Bryant or will the Utah Jazz pull off a miracle and beat out the Lakers for eighth place?

[Image via Creative Commons]