Knicks vie to regroup in showdown with Lakers

The New York Knicks got off to an encouraging start versus game western road trip.

Tonight's showdown with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers won't be a walk in the park either for the Knickerbockers at Staples Center.

After edging the Celtics, 106-104, on Christmas at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks dropped a 92-78 decision at the hands of the Warriors last night. Amare Stoudemire had 16 points and Carmelo Anthony contributed 13, while Landry Fields and Bill Walker had 14 points apiece in defeat. Stoudemire and Anthony were a combined 8-for-27 from the floor. Anthony scored 17 of his game-high 37 points in the fourth quarter against the Celtics.

"The whole game our offense was awful," Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni said bluntly. "We weren't in sync, we didn't make shots, we turned the ball over and we gave them layups. Whatever kind of mistakes you can make, we made. It was awful."

Knicks newcomer Tyson Chandler had two points and three rebounds in nearly 22 minutes of action, and was in foul trouble most of the night. His absence inside allowed the Warriors to penetrate on a consistent basis. New York finished the night shooting 40 percent from the floor and was outrebounded by a 47-31 margin.

New York will also visit Sacramento on the road trip and is in the midst of playing five of seven games away from MSG.

The Lakers, meanwhile, avoided their first 0-3 start since the 1978-79 season with a 96-71 victory versus Utah on Tuesday in the opener of a three-game homestand. They had lost to Chicago and Sacramento in the first two games.

Bryant netted 26 points with a bad wrist, while Pau Gasol added 22 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who were playing their third game in as many nights and helped head coach Mike Brown earn his first win with LA.

"I'm glad the back-to-back-to-back is over," Bryant said.

Metta World Peace, formerly known as Ron Artest, scored 14 points off the bench in a winning effort. Bryant is 49 points shy of 28,000 for his career for the Lakers, who will close out the homestand Saturday versus Denver. On the injury front for Los Angeles, forward Matt Barnes is questionable for tonight with a balky hip and center Andrew Bynum is still serving a four-game suspension for his actions during last year's playoffs against Dallas.

Bynum is eligible to return against the Nuggets.

Los Angeles won both meetings with New York a season ago and is unbeaten in the past eight matchups. The Lakers have won 13 of the last 16 encounters with the Knicks, losers in four straight and 11 of 14 contests as the guest in this series.

Bryant is averaging 26.5 points in 28 career games against the Knicks, while Anthony is posting 22.5 ppg in 26 games versus Los Angeles. Stoudemire is averaging 18.6 points and 8.7 rebounds in 26 career games against LA.