by Marcel Mutoni @ marcel_mutoni

With their leader immobilized in bed and unable to contribute little more than a halftime phone call, the Los Angeles Lakers went out and played inspired ball.

Last night, the Lakers beat the San Antonio Spurs, and now need just one more win—or a Utah Jazz loss in one of their final two games—to reach the Playoffs.

Dwight Howard, now the de facto leader of this group, believes they can not only reach the postseason, but do something special once they’re in the tournament.

Per the LA Times and LA Daily News:

Kobe Bryant wasn’t at Staples Center for obvious reasons Sunday. But his prerecorded message to teammates hung in the air of the Lakers’ locker room after their 91-86 victory over the San Antonio Spurs. It can’t be printed here, the curse words definitely of the stronger variety, but Bryant’s appeal was delivered Saturday by a 30-second video recorded on General Manager Mitch Kupchak’s cellphone.

He dominated with 26 points on 9 of 15 shooting, 17 rebounds and three blocks. He dominated by still encouraging his teammates to pass the ball to others besides him. He dominated by immediately embracing this challenge. “It’s a great opportunity for me to lead this team,” Dwight Howard said. “I feel confident in myself and the guys are confident in me. I’m willing to do the best I can every single night.” [...] “Despite whatever happened this season, we have a chance to win the next game, make the playoffs and make history,” Howard said. “Me being tthe leader in the team, I believe we can win. Now we’ll go out and play like it.”

Of course, no one outside of the Lakers’ locker room truly believes this team can do any serious damage in the Playoffs should they get there.

But they seem to have faith, and that’s really all that matters at this point.