Young players help in back-to-backs

Times Staff Writer

Back-to-back games are a way of life in the NBA, necessary evils that can cause problems for even the top teams.

Overall success in them, particularly on the second night, is often considered a hallmark of teams on the rise.

The Lakers are 4-3 in the second night of back-to-back situations, a decent step for a youthful team trying to prove it belongs among the NBA’s elite.


“A lot of it has to do with we have young players and I think we have well-conditioned players right now,” Coach Phil Jackson said. “We have the depth that’s necessary for back-to-backs.”

They have another back-to-back set tonight at home against Memphis and Monday in Seattle. It’s more of a dress rehearsal for their nine-game trip, during which there will be three back-to-back situations.

The Lakers don’t need to approach the staggering 19-2 mark they had in the second night of back-to-back sets during the 1999-2000 season. They’d be satisfied with a winning record in such situations.

Lakers assistant coach Brian Shaw played on that team, which ultimately won the first of three consecutive championships.

“We tried to take care of business the first night and not have the starters play extended minutes,” Shaw said. “Or Phil would say he expected our bench to get us over the hump on the second night of the back-to-back if the starters did get extended that first night, especially since we had older players. But this [current] team, we have a bunch of young guys.”

Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant are each in their 12th season, but, as Shaw noted, “Everybody else is in their 20s.”

The Lakers were 8-9 last season in the second night of back-to-backs and 8-11 in 2005-06.

Count Milwaukee Bucks Coach Larry Krystkowiak among the Andrew Bynum converts.

“That’s probably one of the biggest surprises in the league, overall,” he said. “I think confidence is a big part of it. . . . He’s really blossoming right before our eyes.”

A day after scoring 37 points, Bryant did not practice Saturday because of lingering effects from a viral upper-respiratory infection. He is expected to play tonight. . . . Sasha Vujacic did not finish practice because his sore back flared up, Jackson said. . . . Bryant has 999 career three-pointers and can become the 44th player in league history to hit the 1,000 mark.


vs. Memphis, 6:30, FSN West

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 570; 1330.

Records -- Lakers 24-11; Grizzlies 10-26.

Record vs. Grizzlies -- 1-0.

Update -- The Lakers led by as many as 26 in a 117-101 victory Tuesday at Memphis. Derek Fisher had a season-high 26 points on 10-for-11 shooting.