The last time the New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers met was the low point of L.A.’s season.
On national television, the Knicks beat the Lakers in a game that saw them lead by as much as 26 points. The loss dropped L.A. to a season-worst 9-14.
Since that time, Los Angeles has begun to turn things around. They’ve won four straight, and are looking to get back to .500.
The two teams will meet again on Christmas Day. This time, the game will be in L.A. The contest is scheduled to tip off a 3 p.m. eastern time. The can be seen on ABC or heard on a free live stream on espnradio.com
New York will be facing a much different Lakers team this time around. Pau Gasol and Steve Nash are finally healthy, and will play together for just the fourth time in 2012, Nash returned on Saturday after missing 24 games with a leg injury. He scored 12 points and had nine assists in his return against the Golden State Warriors.
Even with Gasol and Nash back on the court, Kobe Bryant has continued to try and carry the team on offense. He’s scored at least 30 points in his last eight games, and put up 41 shots in the Lakers last game. He scored 31 in L.A.’s loss to the Knicks.
The man right behind Bryant in the race for the scoring title might put up even more points than Bryant. Carmelo Anthony scored 30 points in just 23 minutes of the first game between the two clubs. He left in the third quarter with a sprained ankle and did not come back.
The Lakers might have trouble slowing down Anthony and the rest of New York’s top scorers. Despite their success of late, they are still one of the worst defensive teams in the NBA. They gave up 116 points at Madison Square Garden two weeks ago, and allow 99.9 per game.
L.A.’s biggest advantage will come on the boards. They are the best rebounding team in basketball, grabbing over 46 per game. Dwight Howard hasn’t had the impact many expected, but he’s still grabbing 11.9 boards per contests.
New York is just 28th in rebounding. They beat the Minnesota Timberwolves on Sunday, but were still outrebounded by 12.
Betting Line: Los Angeles-4, 210.5
Prediction: This game should be much more competitive than when the last time the teams met. The Lakers are much better at home, and Nash and Gasol will give New York trouble. However, neither has seemed to improve the Lakers defensively. The Knicks can score at will, at times, and won’t be slowed down by an old defense.
Predicted Score: New York 110, Los Angeles 107