On a Christmas day game the Lakers escape with a close win at the Staples Center against the New York Knicks, 100-94. It was a fascinating game full of tension, highlight plays and a dramatic finale. It was the fifth straight win for the Lakers, a season-high for them and got back to 0.500. The Lakers are happy to have Steve Nash back on court after a long period of absence due to a leg injury. “I don’t know if [Nash] is all of it, but he’s maybe the last piece that makes it work. There are a lot of pieces that you have to have.” said Head Coach Mike D’Antoni.
It was a game that came down to the final minutes before the Lakers could come up with a victory. With about a minute left in the game, J.R. Smith hit a 3 pointer to cut the deficit back to 2 points but then missed on another three that could have tied the game. The Lakers kept a 3 point lead with just 15” before the end and it was Pau Gasol with a penetration from the top of the line that sealed the win for his team with a strong two-handed dunking finish. Gasol has been heavily criticized for his soft play in the paint, but it was him that made the most important play of the game.
The league’s leading scorers, Carmelo Anthony and Kobe Bryant, didn’t let down the crowd and both reached a terrific performance. Melo shot 13-23 to finish with a team high 34 points while Kobe finished with as many points on 14-24 from the field. The Knicks saw a great performance from their reserve J.R. Smith who had 25 points with three shots from downtown. For the Lakers, Metta World Piece had a great game with 20 points off the bench, including several tough shots and 3 out of 6 made from beyond the arc.
It was the Knicks who controlled the game during the first three quarters, but in the last one, they couldn’t connect offensively. Of course their opponents didn’t let this opportunity pass away and punished New York to win this Christmas Day game. All the pieces of the puzzle are now there for the Lakers, who have won in all games after Nash’s return and not only that. The whole complexion and the game style seem different for them. The deep-minded game and the panoramic vision of the two-time MVP guard make things easier for all his teammates. He finished with 16 points to go along with 11 assists. We all saw some easy baskets from Howard or Kobe and even other LA players coming off the great set up from Nash. “It’s so early in the season to have turned a corner,” Bryant said. “We have everybody in the lineup and we’re starting to see how we want to play.”
Next up for the Lakers comes a Wednesday night game at Denver against the Nuggets. They then return home to face the Portland Trailblazers at their last game of the year. The Knicks play on Wednesday at Phoenix against the Suns.