With the Los Angeles Lakers in a minor slump, Kobe Bryant will get a look at an opponent he has excelled against in recent games.
Bryant and the Lakers look to end their losing streak at three games when they host the last-place New York Knicks on Tuesday night.
The All-Star shooting guard, who is the second-leading scorer in the NBA at 27.9 points per game, has dominated the Knicks, averaging 36.8 points his last five games against them, leading Los Angeles (27-15) to four victories.
The Lakers have won four of their last six matchups with New York (14-29), with Bryant sitting out one game due to an NBA suspension.
Bryant was outstanding in the last meeting with the Knicks, making 14-of-28 shots for 39 points and 11 rebounds in a 95-90 road win on Dec. 23. He became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points in that game at 29 years, 122 days.
The Lakers, however, are on a season high-tying three-game losing streak after a 98-95 defeat to Cleveland on Sunday.
Bryant scored nine of his 33 points in the fourth quarter and also had 12 rebounds and six assists, but the Cavaliers prevented him from trying to force overtime in the closing seconds. The Lakers failed to get a final shot off as time expired.
"The game wasn't lost on that sequence," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Los Angeles last dropped four games in a row from April 8-13, and the team's current slide has come without center Andrew Bynum, who is out until the middle of March with a left knee injury. The Lakers are 2-4 since he got hurt in a win over Memphis on Jan. 13.
Bryant is doing his best to pick up the scoring slack, averaging 34.0 points, 11.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists in the last three games. The Lakers, however, are averaging just 19.3 assists during the skid - their worst three-game stretch in that department since Nov. 13-16.
The Lakers are playing their last home game before they return to Staples Center on Feb. 19 to face Atlanta. They open a nine-game road trip at Detroit on Thursday
They could use some help from point guard Derek Fisher, who shot 3-for-11 from the floor and missed all five of his 3-pointers to finish with eight points Sunday. He is averaging 9.3 points during the slide, a drop from his 12.3 scoring average on the season.
The Knicks, who are last in the Atlantic Division, have won five of their last eight games after a 1-9 stretch. They have alternated wins and losses over the last six games and are coming off a 106-104 defeat at Golden State on Sunday in the opener of a five-game road trip.
"We had our chances to win it," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "We had good looks and a couple of open shots that didn't go down. ... I thought we played some pretty good basketball."
New York has lost 10 straight road games to Western Conference foes since winning 107-106 over the Lakers on Feb. 13 on Eddy Curry's winning dunk with 7.1 seconds left.
Nate Robinson, who scores 11.9 points per game and hands out an average of 2.7 assists off the bench, is looking to build on another strong performance after he had 22 points and eight assists against the Warriors. The 5-foot-9 guard is averaging 15.9 points and 5.1 assists over the last nine games.
He had 16 points and a career-high nine rebounds against the Lakers in December.
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