Christmas Day has a great slate of NBA games lined up, but the game that may provide the most fireworks for display will be the contest between the Los Angeles Lakers and the New York Knicks. The Lakers will be looking to avenge a tough loss they suffered against New York earlier this month in a game that should entertain from start to finish.
The good news for Los Angeles is that the Lakers will have Pau Gasol and Steve Nash this time around. These two players are key to the Lakers' success, and they will give Los Angeles the much-needed firepower that they will need to stop the surging Knicks.
Both teams are entering this game on hot streaks, as the Knicks have gone 7-3 over the course of the past 10 games, while the Lakers have been the winners of four straight.
The return of Steve Nash is the best news that the Lakers have heard in quite some time, considering how well the point guard has performed in head coach Mike D'Antoni's system in the past.
Who scores more between Kobe and Melo?
Another key storyline for the game is the matchup between the league's top two scores, Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony. Both players are lighting it up this season, and it will be interesting to see which one has a better day on one of the brightest stages that the league has to offer.
Time: Tuesday, December 25th, 3 p.m. EST
Records: New York Knicks (20-7) vs. Los Angeles Lakers (13-14)
New York Knicks
The Knicks will once again be without forward Amar'e Stoudemire as he continues to battle his knee injury. The Knicks are also still patiently waiting on the return of Iman Shumpert, who continues to nurse a knee injury that he suffered during last year's playoffs.
Rasheed Wallace is scheduled to miss this game as well, due to a foot injury that may actually be a stress fracture.
And the final injury to report for the Knicks is Marcus Camby's foot, but he is expected to play.
Los Angeles Lakers
The lone injury for the Lakers is Steve Blake and his abdomen. The point guard is expected to miss the next few weeks of the season.
Key Matchup: Dwight Howard vs. Tyson Chandler
While Dwight Howard may be the better center on the stat sheet, Tyson Chandler played like the better center when the two squared off earlier this season.
Chandler not only out-dueled Howard on the defensive ball, but he was also able to score more points (23) than Howard (20) and collect more rebounds (10 for Chandler, seven for Howard). Howard should have a much better game this time around, however, because he will have Steve Nash facilitating on the pick-and-roll.
The pick-and-roll will pose some difficulties for the Knicks defense as a whole, but if anyone can shut down the Lakers, it's the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, Tyson Chandler. The team that has the winner of this matchup should be the team that comes out on top.
Who will win?
This game is going to be crazy.
I expect an old western dual to go on between Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant, and the same goes for Tyson Chandler and Dwight Howard in the paint. Defense is not going to be to prevalent for either team, as I expect both to light up the scoreboard.
Getting either big man in foul trouble will give a considerable advantage to the team that does it, and I believe that team will ultimately win this game.
New York Knicks 121, Los Angeles Lakers 117
Stats used in this article were accurate as of 1:00 a.m. EST on 12/25/12.