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Lakers

Preview: Kobe Bryant's final appearance in San Antonio vs. Spurs

The Lakers (11-41) have struggled for most of the season, but have been perfect through the early days of February with two straight wins. On Saturday, they'll visit the San Antonio Spurs (41-8), who have won all of their 27 homes games this season.

Kobe Bryant is expected to make his final career appearance in San Antonio, but he won't get the chance to face longtime rival Tim Duncan, who is out with a knee injury.

Spurs guard Manu Ginobili (groin) is also out. The Lakers will be without Larry Nance Jr. (knee).

Key matchup

All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard came into the league as a capable defender, but now he's grown into the Spurs' leading scorer at 20 points a game, while shooting 50.7% from the field, 47.8% from three-point range and 87.9% from the free-throw line.

He's the whole package, and one of the league's best players at only 24 years old.

He'll likely matchup against Bryant, who is averaging 16.7 points a game. Bryant is coming off three strong offensive performances with 23 points last Sunday against the Charlotte Hornets, followed by 38 and 27 points in wins over the Minnesota Timberwolves and New Orleans Pelicans.

X-factor

Veteran forward David West has filled in for Duncan at center.  The Spurs will pair him alongside All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

The Spurs have a number of other weapons offensively, including Tony Parker, Danny Green, Patty Mills and Boris Diaw.

The Lakers have seen their young players -- Julius Randle, D'Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson -- continue to grow, but the Spurs are a tough opponent.

Outlook

The Spurs are short-handed, and playing on the second night of back-to-back games after blowing out the Mavericks in Dallas on Friday. Still, San Antonio is perfect at home, and the Lakers are unlikely to get the win Saturday.

Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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