The Los Angeles Lakers taking on the New York Knicks is a mouthwatering NBA Christmas Day offering.
Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony are the top two scorers in the National Basketball Association. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni faces the team he walked away from not even a full season ago. The Lakers were humiliated in Madison Square Garden less than two weeks ago, and Kobe Bryant and company have not lost a game since.
All this goes into a giant cauldron to make a delicious holiday soup set to be served at noon Pacific Time on Dec. 25.
As hot as the Lakers have been, the Knicks have lost two of their last four games—Antony did not play in one of the losses and was ejected in the other. The losses have the Knicks off their perch atop of the East, giving the Miami Heat a minor percentage advantage in the standings.
Despite all the fervor surrounding the Lakers this season, the standings currently have them a game out of the playoff picture in the Western Conference. However, a dedicated and frustrated fan base is finally fully backing their team for the first time this season after Steve Nash returned to play overtime hero on Saturday.
That overtime win over the Golden State Warriors was pure excitement, and Los Angeles wants an encore. This may be a town obsessed with movies, but it can appreciate a live performance when it involves Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Love him or hate him, Kobe is still the top draw in Los Angeles. He may have taken the role of designated scorer too literally against the Warriors by launching up 41 shot attempts, but ultimately, he made 16 of them, including six of his last 12 when the game was on the line.
On the season, Bryant is putting up MVP-type numbers: 29.7 points per game, 5.0 assists per game, and 5.4 rebounds per game. If the Lakers had a better record, Bryant’s career-high field goal percentage would draw more attention than his shot attempts. However, the Lakers are nowhere near the top of the league, and so, Bryant is nowhere near the top of the MVP candidates at the moment.
Carmelo Antony, on the other coast, is standing next to Lebron James in the standings and the MVP race. Anthony’s 28.3 points per game are second only to Bryant, and Anthony also adds 6.1 rebounds to a team that is challenging for top spot in the Eastern Conference despite missing Amar’e Stoudemire through injury.
Bryant may be scoring more points, passing more assists, and shooting better than Anthony from the field and the three point line, but the current standings eliminate Bryant from being in the running and make Anthony’s case stronger than ever. When it comes to MVP, Kobe's got no shot.
Even if the Lakers were to hypothetically pull off a miraculous run and not lose another game for the remainder of the season (again, just a hypothetical), Steve Nash would earn MVP votes, not Kobe Bryant.
The Lakers and Knicks game can be analyzed countless ways, but at its core, it is about the top two scorers in the NBA playing for the top two markets in the NBA on Christmas Day with the whole country watching.
Happy Holidays and enjoy the show.