Kobe Bryant not expected to play against Spurs

Tomorrow’s story today …

Kobe Bryant posed for the Lakers’ team photo Monday, shot some baskets on his own and then left for home. He isn’t expected to play Tuesday against the San Antonio Spurs, sidelined for the sixth consecutive game because of an injured left shin.

The Lakers have won four in a row without him, including a 14-point victory last week over the Spurs in San Antonio. He also could be out for a seventh game when the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday in Oakland.

No question, the Lakers are better with him than without him and his league-leading average of 28.1 points. No, the question is, can they get him healthy enough to play a couple of tune-up games before the playoffs begin later this month?

Bryant said during an TV interview during Sunday’s victory over the Dallas Mavericks that he would “definitely be back well before the playoffs.” He is making progress, but hasn’t participated in anything that could be confused with practice.

Coach Mike Brown said he is content to wait until Bryant is sound before returning him to the Lakers’ starting lineup. It could be several more games before Bryant’s shin is healed enough for him to play again.

The Lakers have five regular-season games remaining, including tonight against the Spurs. They face the Warriors on Wednesday, the Spurs on Friday in San Antonio, Oklahoma City on Sunday at home and the Kings on April 26 in Sacramento.

The playoffs begin either April 28 or 29.