Kobe-less Lakers edge Spurs, hold on to eighth

LOS ANGELES. An empty chair sat in front of Kobe Bryant’s locker Sunday night, and the Los Angeles Lakers realized they would have to fill it together.
Dwight Howard turned in one of his best games of the season, totaling 26 points and 17 rebounds. Net photo.
Dwight Howard turned in one of his best games of the season, totaling 26 points and 17 rebounds. Net photo.

Sunday
Miami    105-93    Chicago       
New York    90-80    Indiana       
Philadelphia    91-77    Cleveland   
Toronto    93-87    Brooklyn   
Denver    118-109     Portland   
New Orleans    89-107    Dallas   
Houston    121-100     Sacramento   

LOS ANGELES. An empty chair sat in front of Kobe Bryant’s locker Sunday night, and the Los Angeles Lakers realized they would have to fill it together.

With their playoff hopes likely on the line against powerful San Antonio, the Lakers cobbled together a group effort that kept them in the hunt.

Dwight Howard had 26 points and 17 rebounds, and the Lakers staged a dramatic rally in the fourth quarter to win their first game since losing Bryant for the season, beating the Spurs 91-86 Sunday night to stay in playoff position.

Steve Blake scored 23 points for the Lakers (44-37), who lead Utah (42-38) by 1 1/2 games for the eighth postseason spot in the Western Conference after their seventh win in eight games - even with Bryant watching from home following surgery on his torn Achilles tendon.

Los Angeles only needs one more win or one Utah loss to clinch its 16th playoff berth in Bryant’s career. The Jazz visit Minnesota on Monday before finishing the season against Memphis, while the Lakers have the next two days off before their finale at home against Houston.

Duncan had 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Spurs, who have lost six straight road games. San Antonio (58-22) is likely to finish second in the West behind Oklahoma City (59-21), which holds the tiebreaker.

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