Preview: Lakers at San Antonio Spurs

The Lakers are set to play the Spurs on Friday, as Kobe Bryant has his torn rotator cuff examined in L.A.

Kobe Bryant will have his torn rotator cuff examined in Los Angeles on Friday, and the Lakers (12-31) are set to play the San Antonio Spurs (27-17) without him.

In December, the Lakers beat the Spurs in San Antonio, 112-110, led by Nick Young with 29 points, along with 22 points and nine assists from Bryant.

San Antonio fell to the Lakers without Kawhi Leonard (hand), who has since returned to play.

For the Lakers, Tarik Black (ankle) is doubtful, while Julius Randle (knee) and Steve Nash (back) are out for the season.

Key matchup

Leonard is the reigning NBA Finals MVP -- at age 23. Since returning, he's averaged 16.3 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, in four appearances. The Spurs are 3-1 over that span, falling on the road to the Chicago Bulls (28-16).

In addition to his offense, Leonard is one of the better perimeter defenders in the league.

In Bryant's absence, the Lakers will likely need Young, Jeremy Lin, Ronnie Price and Ellington to pick up the scoring and playmaking. Rookie Jordan Clarkson may also get a look.

X-factor

The Spurs still rely on Tim Duncan, both offensively and defensively.

Through 38 appearances, Duncan is averaging a double-double with 14.9 points and 10.1 rebounds, along with 2 blocks and 3.2 assists.

At are 38, Duncan is still a major contributor for his team.

The Lakers have some size in Jordan Hill, Ed Davis, Carlos Boozer and Robert Sacre.

The true difficulty in dealing with San Antonio is the team's willingness to share the ball. It's not about stopping Duncan, or Leonard, but Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Danny Green, Cory Joseph, Patty Mills, Marco Belinelli, Boris Diaw, Duncan and Leonard, etc.

Outlook

The Spurs let their guard down in December, but the Lakers will be hard-pressed to end their six-game losing streak in San Antonio on Friday.

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

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