Duncan in need of good vibes vs. L.A.

LOS ANGELES — When the Spurs take on the L.A. Lakers tonight at Staples Center, there are no guarantees Tim Duncan’s name will be in the starting lineup.

With the Spurs’ perch in the Western Conference playoffs locked up, Gregg Popovich could opt to sit his 34-year-old star power forward for one or both of the final two games.

If anyone in silver and black could use a positive outcome against the two-time defending champions, however, it is Duncan.

Repeatedly flummoxed by the Lakers’ twin 7-footers, Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, Duncan has scored a total of just 12 points on 5-of-26 shooting in three games against the Lakers this season.

“They clog it up inside,” Duncan said. “They do a good job challenging shots. With their length, they can do that.”

Duncan’s struggles against the Lakers could come into play if the teams meet in the playoffs. So far, there has been no direct correlation between his statistical line and the Spurs’ fortunes against L.A.

Twice, Duncan has turned in identical two-point, 1-for-7 performances. The Spurs won the first game 97-82 on Dec. 28 and lost the second 99-83 on March 6.

For now, Duncan remains more focused on rounding into playoff shape after missing five games since late March, four of them with a sprained left ankle. In six games since his return, Duncan — who acknowledges the ankle is still not 100 percent — has averaged 15 points and 7.8 rebounds.

“I expect Timmy to play at his best once the playoffs come,” point guard Tony Parker said. “He’s always done it. I don’t see why it would be different.”

To rest, or not: Before leaving San Antonio, Popovich had not decided which of his regulars to play tonight against the Lakers. The entire roster will make the season-ending trip to Los Angeles and Phoenix, which leaves his options open.

“We haven’t thought about dealing with it any differently at this point,” Popovich said. “We’ll see as the games approach exactly what we might do.”

Several players have expressed an interest in fending off Chicago for the top overall record, which would probably require the Spurs to beat the Lakers and the Suns.

“We’ve played this well all season, we’d love to finish out atop the NBA,” Duncan said. “We’re going to try to do the best of managing minutes and winning games, and doing that all at the same time.”

Scoreboard watching: The Spurs locked up the West’s No. 1 seed last week, giving them plenty of time to handicap which team they might face in the first round.

The No. 8 seed remains up for grabs between Memphis and New Orleans.

The Spurs could still draw either team in the first round, as well as Portland, which currently is sixth.

Memphis’ game tonight at Portland should go a ways toward sorting out the seeding.

“If anybody can figure it out, let me know, because it’s kind of confusing,” Ginobili said. “We just worry about ourselves and just wait.”

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