Kobe Bryant calls this one of the most physically demanding seasons of his career.

"It's the most challenging in terms of trying to figure out which button to push to try to get us turned around, from a leadership perspective," Bryant said. "Physically, it's probably the most taxing one."

In recent games, Bryant has taken a bigger role on defense, pressuring point guards and disrupting opponents’ offensive rhythms.

 "When you give him a challenge, he's a better defender,” Steve Nash said. “And when you put athleticism and length on smaller players, I can speak from experience, it's difficult. It helps our team on that end of the floor. I think it helps him really be engaged.”

Bryant was asked whether he can maintain his current level of play for the rest of the season.

"I don't know," Bryant said. "I'm in great shape. Physically I feel fine. Obviously, after the games, I'm sore as hell. But I do quite a bit to recover and by the next game, I'm fine."