Kobe Bryant plays Friday night

Updated: April 21, 2012, 12:01 AM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

SAN ANTONIO -- After a seven-game, 13-day absence, Lakers guard Kobe Bryant played Friday against the Spurs.

Bryant participated in the Lakers' shootaround Friday morning at AT&T Center without a brace or wrap covering his left shin. It was a left shin injury, tenosynovitis, that had kept him out of the lineup since April 7.

Lakers coach Mike Brown said there would be no restrictions on Bryant's minutes Friday.

"Obviously with who he is, the way he's played the game and his experience and all that, it's a welcome addition to the team," Brown said. "In terms of him fitting in, he's so intelligent that I think it will be a seamless (transition)."

The Lakers went 5-2 with Bryant on the sideline.

The Lakers have a one-game lead over the Los Angeles Clippers for the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference playoff standings with three games left to play for both teams.

"The good thing about (Bryant returning) is we'll have a few games before the playoffs to try to make sure that we're as right as we can be going into the second season," Brown said.

He did not rule out the possibility of resting Bryant again before the postseason begins, especially if the Lakers are locked into their playoff seeding before the season finale against the Sacramento Kings next week.

"We're just kind of taking it one at a time and not trying to rush it nor look too far ahead," Brown said. "He'll play (Friday) and we'll see from here."

Friday marks the third game between the Lakers and Spurs in the past 10 days. The Lakers took the first meeting in San Antonio 98-84 and the Spurs bounced back with a 112-91 win in Los Angeles.

The Spurs have a half-game lead on the Oklahoma City Thunder for the No. 1 seed in the West.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com

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