Back-to-back, anxiety attack?
Games on consecutive nights are enough to worry most coaches, but the Lakers had a commendable 12-5 mark last season on the second night of such situations.
They’re off to a good start in their first back-to-back effort, taking a 117-79 victory Wednesday over the Clippers after a 96-76 laugher Tuesday against Portland.
The second night is considered a telling test of endurance for NBA teams, often separating contenders from the pack. As such, Coach Phil Jackson didn’t pause when asked if the Lakers were built for such success this season.
“We have the depth,” he said. “It’s a young team, a relatively young team outside of Kobe [Bryant]'s 12 seasons and Derek [Fisher]'s 12 seasons. We should be young enough to recover.”
The standard for the Lakers remains a near-stunning 19-2 record in the second night of consecutive-game sets in 1999-2000.
Two thumbs up
The Lakers were swarmed with compliments by TNT analysts Kenny Smith and Charles Barkley after their victory against Portland.
“They have set the tone, and the tone is that they’re loaded,” Smith said. “They really have every position covered, twice.”
Barkley, known to needle the Lakers in the past, agreed with Jackson’s decision to break up the triple-tower front line of Andrew Bynum, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom by sending Odom to the second unit.
“I think that’s a really good coaching move by Coach Jackson,” Barkley said. “If you put Bynum, Gasol and Odom together they wouldn’t be a good transition-defensive team. They’d be slow. They’re smaller now, but they’re faster. And when you have Bynum and Gasol, you’re big enough to compete with the other teams, and bringing Odom off the bench is going to make your bench stronger.”
Smith hinted at a long playoff run for the Lakers, even though it was only October.
“The Lakers had the luxury of going to the Western Conference finals, and arguably their second-best player wasn’t there,” he said.
You guys again?
Forward Josh Powell spent last season with the Clippers, playing in 64 games and starting 25, but he is now down the hall at Staples Center after signing with the Lakers as a free agent.
He parted ways with the Clippers after they declined to pick up an $855,000 option on his contract.
If Powell was bitter, he didn’t show it in his first game against his former team.
“Just keeping it cool,” he said. “Just want to get a win.”
Powell didn’t take any pregame shots at the Clippers. He just wanted to move on.
“This is the team I’m with,” he said.
Powell had four points in six minutes against the Clippers.
Odom has a fan in Clippers Coach Mike Dunleavy, who has long admired the all-around game of the versatile veteran.
“He’s like the queen on the chessboard,” Dunleavy said of the former Clipper. “He’s got the ability to move position from position, almost other than center. He can play the point, forward, he handles the ball, he can distribute, he can make plays, he can play the mobile power forward.”
The Lakers haven’t lost a season series to the Clippers since 1992-93, but Jackson said the Lakers and Clippers were “always going to be a rivalry.”
“It’s between guys that grow up together, know each other, see each other out of the atmosphere of the basketball arena,” he said. “It’s really an urban game, so it’s an urban crowd that will be here tonight that will be fun to be in.”
Times staff writers Broderick Turner and Lisa Dillman contributed to this report.