Lakers get Christmas revenge vs. Knicks
by Sam Amick, USA TODAY Sports
LOS ANGELES — No matter the outcome, the Los Angeles Lakers had shown up in this showdown with the New York Knicks on Tuesday at Staples Center.
This was far from a repeat of Dec. 13, when coach Mike D’Antoni made the most humbling of returns to his old Madison Square Garden haunt that seemed to confirm all the reasons he hadn’t been able to cut it as Knicks coach in the three seasons before he resigned in March. But the Lakers’ ability to not only keep up with the Knicks but outlast them 100-94 made this the high point of their disastrous season, a fifth consecutive win that may very well spur this so-called Super Team onto bigger and better things.
They had point guard Steve Nash this time, and that meant promise was back and potential would be filled again for this 14-14 team that hadn’t been at the .500 mark since Nov. 30 (8-8). Nash, who returned on Saturday from the left leg injury that had him out since Oct. 31 and hit a game-winner against Golden State, helped stave off a late Knicks run with a step-back jumper with 1:47 remaining that put the Lakers up 96-91.
The Lakers held on from there, benefiting from the departure of reigning Defensive Player of the Year, center Tyson Chandler, with 2:22 left when he fouled out. Chandler would have come in handy with 12 seconds left, when Lakers forward Pau Gasol dribbled unimpeded from atop the key for a dunk that all but sealed it. The Lakers survived despite the loss of small forward Metta World Peace to his sixth foul with 1:58 remaining. World Peace had perhaps his best game of the season, finishing with 20 points and seven rebounds while helping slow Knicks star Carmelo Anthony (34 points on 13 of 23 shooting). Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 34 points (14 of 24 shooting), while Nash had 16 points and 11 assists.
While wins vs. the Washington Wizards, Philadelphia 76ers, Charlotte Bobcats and Golden State Warriors had certainly been steps in the right direction for the Lakers, this … [For more on Kobe Bryant, Lakers get Christmas revenge vs. Knicks, click here.]