Kobe Bryant: Power Ranking Bryant's Toughest Matchups of 2011

Gabe Zaldivar@gabezalPop Culture Lead WriterDecember 26, 2010

Kobe Bryant: Power Ranking Bryant's Toughest Matchups Of 2011

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers posts up Dwyane Wade #3 of the Miami Heat during the NBA game at Staples Center on December 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    Kobe Bryant just finished an extremely tough match-up tonight. The Miami Heat came in and stunted the wishes of Bryant and his supporting cast. But Christmas Night is not the last game the Lakers will struggle in this season.

    As we enter 2011, let's delve into the better contests that we the fans get to witness and Kobe Bryant the player has to suffer through.

    These are the toughest teams the Lakers will see in 2011.

New York Knicks: January 9th (Home)

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 22:  Raymond Felton #2 of the New York Knicks in action against the Oklahoma City Thunder at Madison Square Garden on December 22, 2010 in New York, New York.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Lakers get their first look at the Knicks on January 9th. This will be the first test of the new year. As Lakers fans know, the purple and gold do not fare well against the run and gun system.

    Mike D'Antoni has the Knicks not only running but winning. Amare Stoudemire and Raymond Felton will spread the floor and give the Lakers fits. This is one game that the Lakers hope to dominate down low. The Knicks do not have anyone that can guard a healthy Andrew Bynum. They will hope he is just that by this time.

Dallas Mavericks: January 19th (Dallas)

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    MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 20:  Shawn Marion #0 of the Dallas Mavericks dunks over James Jones #22 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on December 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by d
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    We entered this season thinking the only real tight competition would be in the East. How wrong we were. The West has turned into a wild race where no team is about to claim to be the far and away winner.

    This will be a contest pitting two top teams hoping to take a stab at home court advantage throughout the playoffs. For Lakers fans it will be a test to see how they have grown from the Christmas Day massacre. They will face a team that is well rounded and touts a big man that can go toe-to-toe with Pau Gasol.

Denver Nuggets: January 21st (Denver)

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    CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 07:  Carmelo Anthony #15 of the Denver Nuggets watches on against the Charlotte Bobcats during their game at Time Warner Cable Arena on December 7, 2010 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    The Lakers never fare well in the Mile High City. This will be no different. The Nuggets always pose a threat on defense.

    The only thing that would make this contest easier is if Carmelo Anthony lands with another team before. It is almost a certainty that he will be traded. It is now just a matter of where and when.

Boston Celtics: January 30th (Home)

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    BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 16:  Kevin Garnett #5 of the Boston Celtics celebrates his basket against the Atlanta Hawks on December 16, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Hawks 102-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowled
    Elsa/Getty Images

    In a little over a month from now the Lakers will be tested again by another imposing eastern power. Let's just hope that game goes a bit better than tonight's debacle. The Lakers looked disinterested on Christmas against the Heat.

    As they season wears on, it is Lakers fans hope that their team flips a switch and cares about the games. This will be one that they will need to show a little bit of passion.

San Antonio Spurs: February 3rd (Home)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Richard Jefferson #24 of the San Antonio Spurs dribbles around Baron Davis #5 of the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on December 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and
    Harry How/Getty Images

    The Spurs were supposed to be dying a slow death. San Antonio had a dismal season last year and were counted out of competing in the 2010-2011 campaign. But the Spurs have turned things around. They are leading the Western Conference and now have Richard Jefferson playing inspired ball.

    The Lakers will have to play lights out ball to take down the Western rivals down a notch. Either way this game will be a treat for NBA fans. Kobe will get his boys fired up by February.

Boston Celtics: February 10th (Boston)

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    BOSTON, MA - DECEMBER 16:  Paul Pierce #34 of the Boston Celtics is fouled by Josh Smith #5 of the Atlanta Hawks on December 16, 2010 at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts. The Celtics defeated the Hawks 102-90. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledg
    Elsa/Getty Images

    There will be no love lost only days before Valentine's Day in Boston. You can trust that Boston fans remember the finals victory the Lakers enjoyed at their expense. Boston will be rocking and the game will be chippy.

    You can bet that there will be quite a few hard hits and fouls coming Kobe and company's way. This one was circled in black ink in the Celtics locker room long before the season started.

Oklahoma City Thunder: February 27th (Oklahoma City)

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    NEW YORK - DECEMBER 22:  Kevin Durant of the Oklahoma City Thunder in action against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden on December 22, 2010 in New York, New York.   NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/o
    Al Bello/Getty Images

    The Lakers just lost to a three headed monster in the Miami Heat. In late January, the Lakers will be playing away against another. Granted the star power of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green is not as glamorous.

    But the talent is there to give the Lakers a run for their money. This is the same team that took the eventual champs to the limit in the first round in 2010. Now they are a year older and wiser.

Miami Heat: March 10th (Miami)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 25: LeBron James #6 of the Miami Heat shares a moment with teammate Dwyane Wade #3 late in the fourth quarter of their NBA game against the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center on December 25, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. Th
    Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

    The Lakers were just trounced on national television by the Miami Heat. They did this while at home and facing a Miami team that boasted a hobbled Dwayne Wade.

    In March, the Lakers will hope to turn the tide against a presumably healthier Heat team away in Miami. I think it is safe to say that the crowd will be boisterous in favor of the Heat.

Dallas Mavericks: March 12th (Dallas)

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    MIAMI, FL - DECEMBER 20:  Dirk Nowitzki #41 of the Dallas Mavericks shoots over Joel Anthony #50 of the Miami Heat during a game at American Airlines Arena on December 20, 2010 in Miami, Florida. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that,
    Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

    Only two days after facing the second biggest game of the season. The Lakers will be forced to play an away game at Dallas. The potential for back to back losses is very high in this one. Couple that with the fact that the Lakers and Mavericks will be battling for playoff position and you have the makings of a classic.

San Antonio Spurs: April 12th (Home)

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - DECEMBER 01:  Tim Duncan #21 of the San Antonio Spurs pauses with the ball in front of DeAndre Jordan #9 of the Los Angeles Clippers at the Staples Center on December 1, 2010 in Los Angeles, California.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly ackn
    Harry How/Getty Images

    We have already espoused the talents of the San Antonio Spurs. This one will be a game with many story lines. The contest comes as the second to last game of the season. It is very clear that the Spurs will be in the running in 2011 for the top spot in the playoffs.

    The Lakers know full how beneficial home court can be in the post season. Unless the Lakers go on a tremendous run, they will need to play everyone for this game. They would like to rest the vets before the playoffs but something tells me this game will have much to say in who gets the top seed.

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