LOS ANGELES, April 15 (UPI) -- Dwight Howard
racked up 26 points with 17 rebounds Sunday and the Los Angeles Lakers overcame the loss of Kobe Bryant
with a 91-86 win over San Antonio.
Steve Blake connected on four 3-pointers en route to 23 points to go with five rebounds, four assists and two steals as the Lakers pulled away down the stretch for a victory in their first game after Bryant was declared lost for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.
Jodie Meeks, replacing the all-star at shooting guard, hit a pair of treys midway through the fourth quarter and Antawn Jamison went 3-for-5 from long range on his way for 15 points for Los Angeles.
With their fourth straight win, the Lakers pulled 1 1/2 games ahead of Utah for the eighth and final spot in the Western Conference with one contest left.
Utah, however, has a game in hand and holds the tiebreaker.
San Antonio, trailing Oklahoma City by one game for the West's top seed, got 23 points and 10 boards from Tim Duncan.
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