Dwight Howard still believes the Lakers will win the NBA championship

All the signs suggest otherwise.

But Dwight Howard still believes this disappointing 2012-13 season will eventually morph into him and his teammates holding the NBA’s Larry O’Brien trophy.

“If we get in the playoffs, there’s no doubt in any of our minds that we can win a championship,” Howard said. “It’d be stupid of me to say if we get in the playoffs, we’ll be out in the first round. You have to have confidence in our team.”

Good luck.

The Lakers (40-37) enter tonight’s game against the New Orleans Hornets (27-50) at Staples Center out of the playoff picture. They trail the Utah Jazz (41-37) by a 1/2 game for the Western Conference’s eighth playoff spot with five games remaining. Even if the Lakers tie with Utah, the Jazz still owns the tie-breaker after going 2-1 against them this season. The Lakers play Portland Wednesday on the second night of a back-to-back, something they have failed to sweep this season for the first time in the organization’s history. The Lakers then close their schedule with home games against West playoff teams, including the Golden State Warriors (Friday), San Antonio Spurs (Sunday) and Houston Rockets (Wednesday).

Howard said the Lakers have refused to allow the large obstacles to derail their optimism.

“we can’t think that way,” Howard said. “We can’t put our minds in a bad place. We have to keep them positive, knowing if we come out and win tonight, anything could happen. If we focus on the negative things, then we’re basically speaking it into existence that we’re not going to make it. I’m not going to put that on myself or this team.”

Still, from an outsider’s perspective, the Lakers have a tough task.

Even if the Lakers sneak into the playoffs, they’ll play either the San Antonio Spurs (57-2) or Oklahoma City Thunder (56-21). The Lakers have gone a combined 1-5 against those teams this season. Meanwhile, the Lakers are exerting plenty of industry just to avoid falling out of the playoffs for the third time in the organization’s history. For the past four games, Kobe Bryant has averaged 46.25 minutes per contest.

“We’ll be fine,” Howard said. “The only thing that matters is tonight. If we get this game, we’ll see what happens after. We can’t control our energy in the playoffs, because right now the playoffs aren’t here.”

And even with that reality, Howard maintains the whole team has kept a positive attitude.

“There’s smiles in the locker room. We’re still blessed to be alive,” Howard said. “There’s no need to walk around with frowns on our faces. We know what we have to do as a team. We just have to go do it.”


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Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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