The NBA's top two scorers will share the court on Christmas Day when the New York Knicks visit the Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant, however, thinks the Staples Center floor might as well be replaced with a boxing ring when he and Carmelo Anthony square off.
"He's a weight class above," Bryant said. "But I know where to fight at.
"It's a very interesting puzzle. You have to prepare for him a lot more than anybody else with his bag of tricks to go to. You have to be extremely, extremely prepared."
Bryant leads the NBA in scoring this season with 29.7 points per game while Anthony is averaging 28.3 and shooting a career-best 43.7 percent from 3-point range. Preparing for Anthony – who can shoot from any range or post inside – has never been tougher than now. He has played like an MVP and led the Knicks to a 20-7 record while Amar'e Stoudemire has been sidelined.
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Anthony has been criticized throughout his career for caring too much about scoring. Bryant is glad to see his friend and Olympic teammate win some appreciation this season.
"He's playing like he has always played," Bryant said. "He's just surrounded by pieces that allow him to do what he does best. And finally people are recognizing what a great player he is.
"He's been criticized, but that comes with the job, though. That comes with all scorers. Scorers are very easily criticized. But that's something we all take in stride. You have to. That's part of being a scorer."
One of the key reasons for Anthony's success: the addition and of point guard Jason Kidd. Kidd has helped Anthony become more patient – and created easier scoring opportunities for him.
The Knicks signed Kidd and point guard Raymond Felton after failing to land Steve Nash, who joined the Lakers. Nash missed 24 games after fracturing his left fibula, but returned Saturday against the Golden State Warriors and will be on the court for the Lakers' Christmas matinee against Anthony and the Knicks.
"Felton is doing a good job for them," Bryant said, "but I'm happy to have Nash."
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