Kobe expects to play Friday vs. Spurs

NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant expects to  return to the Lakers’ lineup Friday night in San Antonio against the Spurs.

Bryant has missed the last seven games with a bruised  left shin. The Lakers have posted a 5-2 record while he was gone, including splitting a pair of games with the Spurs.

But Bryant is eager to test the injury before the playoffs begin late next week.

“I’ll probably be on the floor next game,” Bryant told ESPN sideline reporter Ric Bucher during the Lakers-Golden State game Wednesday night.

The Orange County Register reports that Bryant and did not incur any pain in his injured shin, although he must also be pain-free on Thursday before he is cleared to play by the Lakers’ team doctors. Bryant began shooting work on Monday.

The Lakers have looked good during his absence as Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Metta World Peace all have provided consistently strong performances during his absence.

Lakers coach Mike Brown will have the final three games of the regular season to work Bryant back into the rotation before the playoffs  begin next weekend.

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