Kobe Bryant engineered a second-half comeback to help the Los Angeles Lakers beat the New York Knicks, 100-94, at the Staples Center on Tuesday and extend the Lakers' winning streak to five games while lifting them to .500.
Bryant scored 34 points in his NBA-record 15th Christmas Day game, and Metta World Peace added 20 points and seven rebounds for the hosts while defending Carmelo Anthony, whose 34 points led the Knicks. The league's leading scorer, Bryant has topped 30 or more points in nine straight games.
The Lakers improved to 14-14 - 9-9 under new coach Mike D'Antoni - and improved their holiday record to 21-18, including 13-9 at home.
The Knicks controlled most of the game behind Anthony and J.R. Smith, who had 24 points.
But they struggled offensively in the fourth, when Anthony was limited to seven points and Smith had five.
Steve Nash had 16 points, 11 assists, and 6 rebounds in his second game in nearly two months. He missed 24 straight games while recovering from a small fracture in his lower left leg.
Dwight Howard had 14 points and 12 rebounds, and Pau Gasol had 13 points and eight rebounds.
The Knicks opened the third on a 15-5 run, but Bryant and Nash ignited the quiet atmosphere by leading a 17-9 run that drew the Lakers to 78-77 going into the fourth. They took the lead for good on Bryant's basket with 7 minutes, 38 seconds remaining.
Gasol dunked with 12 seconds to go, punctuating a win that sent Lakers fans, frustrated by the team's struggles and coaching change, home happy. With the win, the Lakers avenged a 116-107 loss in New York on Dec. 13.
Elsewhere: Rajon Rondo scored 19 points in his first full game against the Brooklyn Nets this season as the visiting Boston Celtics beat their division rivals, 93-76. Rookie Jared Sullinger tied a career high with 16 points for the Celtics (14-13), who avoided falling under .500 with just their second victory in six games.
- Associated Press