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Pain-free Bryant set for Lakers return

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Describing his shin as pain-free, Lakers star Kobe Bryant will return to the starting lineup Friday night at San Antonio after missing the past seven games.

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Bryant said after the morning shootaround, at which he participated in full-speed workouts, that he feels he can play all 48 minutes if needed.

The 33-year-old Bryant has been sidelined by a case of tenosynovitis, or inflamed tendons, in his left shin after suffering the injury March 31 in a win over New Orleans.

With its playoff position secure and the team going 5-2 without the five-time NBA champion, head coach Mike Brown was content to hold Bryant out until the injury was fully healed.

The 13-day absence provided the league's leading scorer with a welcome period of rest as the 40-23 Lakers head into the playoffs a week from Saturday.

Bryant has already been playing this season with a torn ligament in his left wrist, an injury that he suffered in the preseason.

Tagged: Lakers, Kobe Bryant

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