Lakers forward Lamar Odom, bringing the ball upcourt during a 93-84 win… (Alan Spearman / Associated…)
Reporting from Orlando, Fla. — Maybe, it was suggested to Lamar Odom after he explained why the Lakers have found so much success so far on this seven-game trip, their being together so often is like when they were kids and went to a pizza joint after a youth-league basketball game.
But the Lakers have been together for nine consecutive days now — on the bus, on airplanes, at the team hotel, seemingly always together, bonding as one.
"A team is a team," Odom said after practice Saturday. "I don't care if you're 8 years old, 18 years old or 28 years old, a team is a team. I think we enjoy each other and it shows."
The Lakers have won the first four games on this trip, and will seek to make it five when they play the Orlando Magic on Sunday at Amway Arena.
"The focus is there," Odom said. "The team is coming together. It usually happens for us around this time the last couple of years."
For years, the Lakers have had extended stretches on the road while the Grammy Awards are held at Staples Center in late January or February.
The Lakers were 7-2 on the "Grammy trip" in 2008, 6-0 in 2009 and 5-3 in 2010.
The long trip appears to galvanize the team each year.
"I just think it's time together," Odom said. "I think at home everybody has their thing going on, so it's good to be on the road with each other. I think whether it's going to the movies, eating together, hanging out, I just think it helps our personality as a team, our team soul."
But even though the Lakers have won the first four games and are playing well, it doesn't meaning they are thinking of a 7-0 trip, Coach Phil Jackson said.
After playing the struggling Magic, the Lakers are at under-.500 Charlotte on Monday and finish Wednesday night at Cleveland, the team with the worst record in the NBA.
"We're just playing tomorrow's game, that's really all we're doing right now," Jackson said. "Everybody knows we haven't won in Charlotte in five years."
Actually, it's been three years since the Lakers last won in Charlotte, on Feb. 11, 2008. Perhaps it just seems that long because the Bobcats have won seven of their last nine games against the Lakers.
"They don't have to be reminded of that," Jackson said. "We know it's still a hard road, back to back, four games in five nights. We're just trying to get one more. That's what we're doing, just get one more game."
Jackson saw positive signs
In Jackson's view, the Lakers' Feb. 3 home loss to the San Antonio Spurs before the start of this trip was encouraging.
He saw signs of a team making strides, of breaking free from a tailspin in which the Lakers lost five of nine games.
"Our defense was sound," Jackson said. "We knew our defense had to come together to do some things. And we paced the game the way we want to pace it. We played well enough in that game to know that we were back on the right track."