- For just the third time in NBA history, the league’s top two scorers will meet on Christmas. Kobe Bryant is averaging a league-high 29.7 points for the Lakers, who are riding a season-best four-game winning streak. His shooting has cooled off the last couple weeks, but he’s still hitting 47.1 percent of his shots. He has never finished better than 47 percent for a season. Carmelo Anthony is averaging 28.3 points for the Knicks and has improved his perimeter shooting as well. A career 33.1 percent shooter from 3-point range, he’s at 43.7 coming into the game.
- The Lakers will have veteran point guard Steve Nash in the lineup for a second consecutive game. Nash missed 24 games after suffering a fracture in his lower left leg during the second game of the season. L.A. went 12-12 with Nash out of the lineup. He returned Saturday night in a 118-115 victory against the Warriors, producing 12 points and nine assists in 41 minutes, his most playing time since logging 49 minutes in a triple-overtime loss to the Lakers while playing for the Suns on March 22, 2011.
- The Knicks will have veteran center Marcus Camby back against the Lakers. Camby has missed the last 12 games with plantar fascia in his left foot. With post players Amar’e Stoudemire (left knee) and Rasheed Wallace (left foot) still out, Camby will give the Knicks a much-needed big body against Lakers center Dwight Howard and forward Pau Gasol. New York has done a good job limiting Howard on the boards in recent games. Howard is averaging an NBA-leading 13.7 rebounds over the last two seasons, but is averaging just 7.5 in his last four games against the Knicks. He hasn’t produced more than eight boards in any of the last three games against New York.
- The Lakers will go with the same starting lineup they used in Golden State. Bryant will start at small forward with Nash and Darius Morris in the backcourt. Howard and Gasol will start up front. The 6-foot-4 Morris will open the game guarding the 6-foot-8 Anthony, but Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said Morris will get plenty of help. Metta World Peace will likely come off the bench and spend time guarding Anthony as well. The Knicks are trying to win three straight against the Lakers for the first time since 1995.