How's this for a Christmas present? For just the third time in NBA history, the league's top two scorers will match up on Christmas Day.
KOBE VS. CARMELO: Anthony is just 13-23 against Bryant in his career, including 2-8 in the postseason. But you can make a strong argument that Anthony’s entering this game against Bryant playing the best basketball of his career.
Just how hot is Anthony right now?
He's averaging 28.7 points while connecting on a career-high 43.7 percent of his shots from behind the arc. Since the 3-point line was instituted in 1979-80, no player has averaged at least 28 points while connecting on at least 44 percent from long distance.
BOARD WORK: The Knicks have won their last two games against the Lakers (one in February last season and another earlier this month) and will try to win three straight against Los Angeles for the first time since 1995.
They'll have a great chance to do so if they contain Dwight Howard on the boards, something they've had success with in the recent past.
Howard has averaged an NBA-high 13.7 rebounds per game over the last two seasons. But in the four games he has played against Tyson Chandler and the Knicks over that span, Howard has averaged only 7.5 rebounds per game. He has pulled down no more than eight rebounds in each of his last three games against New York.
One aspect to consider in how the Knicks will handle Howard. They might have Marcus Camby back on the floor. The veteran has missed 12 games with plantar fascia.
The Knicks also have to worry about Steve Nash, who returned to the court late last week. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni has a .734 career win percentage in games Nash has played, in compared to a .387 win percentage without him.
LONG-DISTANCE ISSUES: The Knicks are third in the league in 3-point field goal percentage, hitting 40 percent of their attempts. But they've struggled in their last five games (32 percent).
The Lakers are allowing teams to shoot 36 percent from three. The Knicks went 12-for-25 in their 116-107 win over Los Angeles on Dec. 13, so maybe they can get it going against D'Antoni's club.
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