Kobe: "Every loss now cuts a little deeper"

LOS ANGELES – Despite starting 2013 with a loss and a below-500 record, Kobe Bryant still expects the Los Angeles Lakers to make the playoffs and compete for a championship.

“I don’t think there’s a doubt about that,” Bryant told Colin Cowherd Wednesday on ESPN Radio when asked if the Lakers were built for the playoffs. “The problem is we’ve dug ourselves such a deep hole we got to do a lot of fighting just to catch up and get in that conversation. We firmly believe it’s going to happen but we have to do a lot of fighting just to get there.”

The Lakers are currently 9.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers in the Pacific Division and are the tenth place team in the Western Conference, 1.5 games behind the Portland Trailblazers for the eighth and final playoff seed. The Lakers can cut into that deficit on Friday night when they play the Clippers at Staples Center.

“It’s very deep, we’re very concerned but we’ve been playing well lately,” Bryant said of his concern for the Lakers right now. “The last eight games we’ve been playing pretty well but the hole we dug ourselves in the start is very deep so every loss now cuts a little deeper than it should. So we have to keep focused on how we’ve been playing lately and just continuing to get better from that.”

The one thing Bryant is not concerned about is possible dysfunction within the team about Pau Gasol’s role, Dwight Howard’s health, Mike D’Antoni’s rotation or anything else. Bryant actually thinks a little confrontation could be good for the team.

“I’ve been on teams where we’ve confronted each with Phil (Jackson) and Shaq (O’Neal) and we had altercations and yelled at each other and then you figure things out,” Bryant said. “I don’t want to be on a type of team where you feel like you’re afraid of confrontation or afraid of a little dysfunction because without having those things you really cannot get on the same page. You just walk around and everybody is comfortable being whatever and whispering about what they should be doing and what they want to be doing instead of having confrontations and ironing things out.”

Listen to full interview here.