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.

Kupchak visited him earlier that day before Bryant underwent surgery for a torn left Achilles' tendon.

The video went something like this: Get the job done, we've worked too hard, don't even think of giving up and I'll be watching you guys on TV. Now go out and win.

So the Lakers did against the Spurs, moving 1½ games ahead of Utah for the Western Conference's final playoff spot.

The Lakers (44-37) will make the playoffs if they win a home game Wednesday against Houston or if Utah (42-38) loses one of its last two games (Monday at Minnesota and Wednesday at Memphis).

Dwight Howard had 26 points and 17 rebounds in a game with plenty of shoddy shooting. Steve Blake had 23 points, two shy of his career high, as the Lakers shot 36.5%. Tim Duncan had 23 points for the Spurs, who shot 37.1% and will probably finish second in the West.

That means the Lakers are currently looking at a best-of-seven series against Oklahoma City in the first round.

For now, though, Bryant's message meant a lot.

"There's not too many guys that could do that," Blake said. "When I had surgery, there was no way I was going to send a video, right? But it's nice to know that the best player in the world still believes in you when he's out. It gives you confidence."

Bryant was immobilized at home Sunday but not far from the action, contacting Lakers trainer Gary Vitti at halftime.