Lakers turn focus to basketball, but thoughts remain with Lamar Odom

Lamar Odom showing small signs of improvement (0:54)

Ramona Shelburne reports the latest on Lamar Odom's condition. (0:54)

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers turned their focus to basketball Thursday, but their thoughts remain with ex-Laker Lamar Odom, who is hospitalized in Las Vegas after being found unconscious at a Nevada brothel earlier this week.

“Obviously he’s very close to this organization, so I think everybody’s thinking about Lamar,” Lakers coach Byron Scott said after practice at their facility here. “One of the first thoughts on my mind when I got here this morning was had anybody heard any differently on what’s going on with him. I think throughout the day, we’re all thinking about him and we’re all wishing him the best. Just praying. Just praying for him."

The Lakers played a preseason game against the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night in Las Vegas. After that game, a 107-100 Kings win, Lakers star Kobe Bryant visited Odom in the hospital, as did Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak.

“Kobe’s amazing,” said Lakers forward Metta World Peace, a childhood friend and ex-Lakers teammate of Odom’s. “I see Mitch every day, but I thank Mitch and the Laker organization for being very concerned and [Lakers trainer] Gary Vitti for keeping us all updated. Hopefully Lamar pulls through.”

The 37-year-old Bryant, who suffered a lower leg contusion in the third quarter of Tuesday’s loss, didn’t practice Thursday and left the team’s facility without speaking to reporters.

“He’s handling it,” Scott said of Bryant. “It’s hard on him. He was very close to Lamar. Loves him like a brother. It’s just a rough time for Kobe dealing with that. This is probably the first time that he’s had a teammate that’s going through something like this.”

Scott added, “You never want to deal with anything like this, but you especially don’t when you’re in your early 30s or early-to-mid 30s. You just don’t see that. When you get to our age where we’re up in our 50s and stuff, you understand things like that start to happen. But at this particular time, at such a young age, it’s kind of hard to deal with.”

Bryant and Odom were teammates from 2004 to 2011 and won championships together in 2009 and 2010. Bryant sent out a tweet Thursday that included the hashtag “#justpray.”

Scott said the players are doing their best not to allow Odom’s situation to overwhelm them as they try to prepare for the season ahead.

“We’re trying to do what we do best, which is come out here and play basketball and think about that. This is still our safe haven right now," Scott said, standing on the team's practice court. "I know there’s other distractions that are going on outside this gym, but when we get in here, we try to focus on the basketball part.”

Still, Scott said he has addressed the team about Odom.

“I tell them to keep him in their prayers, and I know their thoughts are with him just like mine are,” Scott said. “But we still have a job to do. We have to come to work every day and get better as a basketball team. But when you have that down time, if he pops into your head, like I know he will, because he does with me every day, just say a prayer for him.”

World Peace said his brother, Daniel Artest, has been staying at a hotel across the street from the Las Vegas hospital where Odom is recovering.

"We just feel like we need some people there, even if you’re not inside the room, inside the hospital," World Peace said.

World Peace and Odom have known each other since growing up in New York together. “I’ve known Lamar since I was 11 years old,” World Peace said.

As for Odom’s situation, World Peace said, “Hopefully he gets well. Hopefully he pulls out of this thing and gets the support that he really needs. That’s pretty much all I have to stay. ... There’s nothing I can say that’s going to make sense right now. It’s all about Lamar and his children. That’s the only thing that’s important.”