Pain-free Bryant set for Lakers return

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

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.

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.

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