By Evans Clinchy
April 20, 2012

After missing seven games with an injured left shin, Kobe Bryant will return tonight as the Los Angeles Lakers face the San Antonio Spurs, coach Mike Brown confirmed today to Dave McMenamin of ESPN L.A.

"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)."

Bryant had been out of the lineup since April 7; the Lakers managed to go 5-2 in his absence, strengthening their grip on third place in the Western Conference. At 40-23, they currently lead the L.A. Clippers by one game in the race for the No. 3 seed in the playoffs.

The Lakers have just two games left in the regular season after tonight -- Sunday at home against the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Thursday visiting the Sacramento Kings. The playoffs start in a week.

"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.

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