New York Knicks vs. LA Lakers: Postgame Grades and Analysis
In the second of five games on Christmas Day, the Knicks and Lakers seesawed back and forth for the duration of the game, neither team taking a double-digit-point lead.
Bryant played more in the flow of the offense than he did in Steve Nash's return against the Golden State Warriors days ago.
Overall, it was a wildly entertaining game, as the Lakers and Knicks consistently alternated between big offensive possessions and impressive (and at times unexpected) defensive stands.
While the Lakers were able to pull this one out, the Knicks still showed that they're going to continue to hang around the top of the league thanks to the brilliant play of Anthony.
Let's break this one down just a bit further and take a look at it piece by piece.
PG: Steve Nash vs. Raymond Felton
Steve Nash: A
It was his second game back from a broken leg, yet he looked like he's been a part of this offense all season long.
He was still beat a few times off the dribble by the younger Raymond Felton, so his defense is going to continue to need work, but Dwight Howard's paint protection saved him more than once.
Nash got the ball swinging around the perimeter brilliantly and was able to get Pau Gasol involved.
Nash finished this one up with 16 points and 11 assists.
Raymond Felton: C
The Knicks point guard, who looked to be so much more redeemed during the first month of the season, continued struggling from the floor against the Lakers.
Felton was able to knock in 10 points and add six assists, which is fine enough, but he shot an atrocious 5-of-19 from the floor.
He has shot at least 50 percent from the floor just twice this month, both such games coming in the first week of December.
Felton is either going to have to find a way to take better shots or just stop shooting so much altogether.
SG: Darius Morris vs. Jason Kidd
Darius Morris: D
Darius Morris started for the Los Angeles Lakers, but he was never really a part of this game.
Morris put in just seven minutes toward the cause, missing both shots that he took and only reaching the stat sheet in the foul column, picking up two.
Jason Kidd: C+
While Jason Kidd wasn't brilliant in the game tonight, he was able to have a positive effect on the game without taking anything away from the table.
He knocked down two of his four three-pointers, filling in the score sheet with just six points, but he was also able to dole out seven assists and corral seven rebounds, picking up the slack for Raymond Felton.
Kidd continued to look slow on the defensive end, but it didn't hurt the team too much, as the Knicks were able to show off good defensive rotation for the majority of the game.
SF: Kobe Bryant vs. Carmelo Anthony
Kobe Bryant: A
What a showdown we had between these two in this one. Kobe Bryant was announced as a "forward" before the game, which was enough to get a chuckle from me, as he played all but seven minutes from the shooting guard spot.
Bryant was taking much better shots than he did against the Golden State Warriors on Saturday, making 14 of his 24 shots and actually getting to the free-throw line.
Defensively, his intensity was much higher than it has been for the majority of the season, playing very well along the perimeter, and even sticking Carmelo Anthony a few times when a switch necessitated it.
He ended up with 34 points in yet another impressive performance.
Carmelo Anthony: A
Carmelo Anthony had one of the best quarters you'll see all season, scoring 17 points on nine shots in the third quarter.
He continued to play with a high level of defensive intensity and went down low to bang and bump around, even with Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard hanging out in the paint.
Anthony finished the game with 34 points on a relatively good shooting night, putting in 13 of his 23 attempts.
PF: Pau Gasol vs. Kurt Thomas
Pau Gasol: B+
As far as shooting goes, Pau Gasol is still struggling at times, but that could still be him getting used to his new role in the Lakers offense.
This game was, however, one of his most active games of the season. He grabbed rebounds, flung passes and tipped missed shots to his teammates frequently. And he played his best down the stretch.
Gasol made just five of his 13 shots to score 13 points, but he stuffed the stat sheet with eight rebounds and six assists.
Kurt Thomas: B+
It was just the eighth game of the season in the starting lineup for Kurt Thomas, but he definitely made the most of the time he had on the floor.
For short bursts, Thomas can continue to positively impact a game, but it's going to come in no more than two to four minute stretches.
In 13 minutes tonight, Thomas was able to knock down all three of his shots, picking up six points to go along with three rebounds, an assist, a steal and a block.
C: Dwight Howard vs. Tyson Chandler
Dwight Howard: A+
He only put up 14 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, but his defense in the second half was nothing short of stellar.
Howard was only credited with two blocks, but it could have easily been four or five. And if we want to talk about shots altered, that number is probably closer to 10 in the second half alone.
He was as springy as he's been all season long, rotating beautifully to help out Steve Nash when he got beat off the dribble.
It certainly helps his case, as well, that he was able to make four of his eight shots, along with six of his nine free throws.
Tyson Chandler: C+
It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. Tyson Chandler showed off why he's so important to this Knicks lineup while simultaneously having one of his worst games of the season.
Defensively, Chandler was no different than he has been all season long. He constantly tapped out rebounds, pulled down nine of his own and altered countless shots. Although, fouling out with just over two minutes left in the fourth quarter didn't help the Knicks' cause.
However, despite shooting 70 percent from the floor this season, Chandler made just three of his seven shots, with all four of his misses coming right at the rim.
Sixth Men: Metta World Peace vs. J.R. Smith
Metta World Peace: B+
It's only been two games, but if Metta World Peace continues to come off the bench and have games like this, he's going to get some Sixth Man of the Year buzz.
Before Carmelo Anthony had the most impressive quarter of the game in the third, World Peace was able to make his own case with a 16-point second quarter.
Not only was he extremely hot in the second, but he was able to continue into the third and fourth with some decent defense, forcing Carmelo Anthony into tough shots.
World Peace ended up with 20 points, seven big rebounds, a steal and an assist before fouling out in the fourth quarter.
J.R. Smith: B
As Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant had their own scoring battle, J.R. Smith and Metta World Peace did the same coming in off the bench.
Smith put up 25 to World Peace's 20, although he took 23 shots to World Peace's 11.
Continuing with the trend of the season, Smith's defensive intensity barely wavered throughout the game.
Los Angeles Lakers: C
When we exclude Metta World Peace, the Lakers bench was able to add in three points, four rebounds, two assists and three turnovers, all while making just one of its combined seven shots.
Thankfully for Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks and Chris Duhon, World Peace came though for the Lakers big time.
New York Knicks: C+
It was the same story for the New York Knicks bench. J.R. Smith gave it a lot; the rest of the guys were starving for anything positive to happen.
The only takeaway it can have from this game is that it outplayed the Lakers bench, coming away with seven points, eight rebounds, two assists, a steal and a block.
Overall, however, it was more ineffective than anything.