Los Angeles, CA – The top two scorers in the NBA engaged in a Christmas Day duel, but Kobe Bryant got the best of Carmelo Anthony this time around.
Bryant registered his ninth straight 30-plus point game with 34 points and the Los Angeles Lakers avenged a loss to the Knicks earlier this month with a 100-94 triumph.
New York routed Los Angeles, 116-107, on Dec. 13, but the Lakers were without Steve Nash and Pau Gasol. It was Los Angeles' last loss as it has bounced back with a season-high five-game winning streak.
Nash tallied 16 points, 11 assists and six rebounds in his second game back since missing the previous 24 contests with a non-displaced fracture to his lower left leg on Oct. 31. Pau Gasol added 13 points, eight boards and six helpers in the win.
"We held them to 16 points in the fourth quarter and played good defense," Bryant said. "We did it as a group and we did it in stages. It's a process, we just tried to get better."
Anthony equaled Bryant with 34 points for New York, which has dropped three of its last five contests to drop to 20-8 on the campaign.
"Give them credit, they made the plays defensively," Knicks head coach Mike Woodson said. "The fourth quarter was pretty much in their favor. We had some breakdowns late and they cost us."
Bryant came in averaging 29.7 points per game, while Anthony has dropped in 28.3 points per contest.
Anthony, who netted 10 first-half points on 4-of-11 shooting, exploded in the third quarter.
He hit his initial four shots of the period and poured in 10 points as New York outscored Los Angeles, 18-9, to begin the frame and take a 69-60 lead with 5:23 left in the stanza.
Anthony finished the quarter with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting, but the Lakers tallied the last six points of the third as Bryant's driving layup pulled the hosts within 78-77 heading into the fourth.
The Lakers used an 8-0 run, capped by back-to-back Bryant buckets for an 87-82 advantage with 7:01 remaining in the fourth.
Later, two Anthony free throws cut the deficit to 92-90 with 3:19 left, but the hosts outscored the Knicks, 8-4, the rest of the way.
Two Howard free throws and a Nash step-back one-footed jumper, sandwiched around Anthony splitting a pair from the stripe, made it a 96-91 game with 1:47 to play.
J.R. Smith nailed a left wing 3-pointer before Gasol sunk 1-of-2 from the line to keep it a one-possession contest at 97-94. But Smith couldn't nail his trey at the other end of the floor and Gasol's driving dunk with 12 ticks left put the game away.
"I don't dunk as often as I used to so it felt good to go to the hole with some explosiveness," Gasol said of the play.
Earlier, Los Angeles took a 25-23 advantage after a quarter of play.
Metta World Peace poured in 16 of his 20 points in the second and the Lakers headed into the break with a 51-49 cushion.
The Lakers moved to 6-11 on the campaign when Bryant tallies at least 30 points ... No team has played more games on Christmas than the Knicks, who moved to 22-26 in such contests, which the Lakers improved to 21-18 on Dec. 25.