Preview: Lakers host San Antonio Spurs in return from All-Star break

The Lakers (11-44) return to play on Friday night after a lengthy All-Star break by hosting the San Antonio Spurs (45-9).

San Antonio visited the Clippers (36-18) on Thursday night, falling 105-86 while playing without All-Star forward Kawhi Leonard.

Leonard, struggling with a calf issue, is also out Friday, as are  Manu Ginobili (groin) and Matt Bonner (calf).

The Lakers are relatively healthy, expecting rookie Larry Nance Jr. to play after sitting a few weeks because of a knee injury.  Fellow rookie Anthony Brown is a game-time decision with a mild ankle sprain.

Key matchup

Kobe Bryant will make his final career appearance against the Spurs. On Feb. 6, the team gave the Lakers All-Star a fitting tribute in his last appearance in San Antonio.

Bryant played 26 minutes on Sunday in the All-Star game, finishing with 10 points, seven assists and six rebounds.  The time off should bode well for the veteran.  His last regular-season game was in Cleveland on Feb. 10 in a 120-111 loss to the Cavaliers.

Bryant is averaging 16.9 points, 4.2 rebounds and 3.4 assists a game this season.

The Spurs are a bit short-handed without Leonard and Ginobili, who often guard Bryant.  Danny Green will likely matchup against Bryant, along with veteran guard/forward Rasual Butler.

Green is not a big scorer, averaging 7.5 points a night, but he's a noted defender who can get hot from behind the three-point line.


The Spurs still boast veterans Tony Parker and Tim Duncan, along with All-Star forward LaMarcus Aldridge.

Aldridge was a challenge for the Lakers earlier in the month, scoring 26 points on 11-of-18 shooting and grabbing nine rebounds in San Antonio's 106-102 victory.

The Lakers played the Spurs well, getting big numbers from Bryant (25 points), Jordan Clarkson (21) and Julius Randle (15 points and 16 rebounds).

With Nance returning to play, Coach Byron Scott said that he'll stick with Randle as the team's starter at power forward.


The Lakers might actually have a shot against the Spurs, who are playing without arguably their best player in Leonard on the second night of back-to-back games. That said, San Antonio should still be considered the favorite.

Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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