Kobe Bryant expects to play Friday vs. Spurs

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If you’re wondering just how often the Lakers play the Spurs down the stretch, the answer was three times in the final 17 days of the season.

What will be different about the third of those meetings Friday is that Kobe Bryant is expected to play.

He has missed seven games with a shin injury but said after the Lakers beat the Warriors he expects to play, reports Elliott Teaford of the Los Angeles Daily News.

“Why not?” he said after the Lakers’ victory over the Warriors. “I’m good.”

Kobe went through his most strenuous workout hours before the Lakers took on the Warriors and team officials want to see how he bounces back. But the Lakers need to get him back and worked in with an offense that has finally started to try and regularly exploit its size and skill advantage inside with Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. The Lakers were 5-2 with Kobe out.

“It’s been good to see how much guys have progressed, doing things they would ordinarily not try to do,” (Kobe) said. “When I’m not out there, you have to do other things. You have to experiment with your game. They had a great deal of success with it.”

Put simply, if the Lakers defend hard and blend Kobe back into this offense they can do some damage in the playoffs. If they revert to too much Kobe hero ball, they will be out in the second round, if not earlier.