Los Angeles Lakers star guard and NBA scoring leader Kobe Bryant expects to  return to the lineup Friday night, when the Lakers visit the San Antonio Spurs for their third meeting this season.

Kobe has missed the last seven games with a bruised  left shin, and the Lakers have posted a 5-2 record while he was on the sidelines, including splitting two games with the Spurs.

But Bryant is eager to test the injury before the playoffs begin late next week.

Bryant told ESPN The Magazine's Ric Bucher that he'll "probably be on the floor next game"

Lakers coach Mike Brown will have the final three games of the regular season to work Bryant back into the rotation before the playoffs  begin next weekend.

Bryant went through a full pregame workout with Lakers player development coach Phil Handy more than three hours before tipoff, combining shooting drills, one-on-one play and wind sprints, all without the aid of a wrap or brace on his left shin.

Lakers trainers will wait 24 hours to see how Bryant's body responds to the test on Wednesday before making a determination of whether he'll be cleared to return.

It is clear, however, that Bryant is continuing to improve from the tenosynovitis injury to his left shin that has sidelined him since April 7.

"It's a day-by-day thing," Brown said. "Like I've said before, he's getting better. He's made progress. We like where he is right now."

There is little at stake on Friday, but Bryant will probably suit up to get his conditioning back.

Facing a Lakers team with Bryant in tow, will also be a good test for the Spurs as they prepare for a deep playoff run.

(Photo via inquisitr.com)