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Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Halftime report: J.R. fills the void

By Ian Begley

Here are a few observations from the first half of the Knicks-Lakers Christmas Day battle. Los Angeles leads, 51-49, after two quarters.

SMITH SIZZLES: With his Carmelo Anthony having a tough time against Metta World Peace, the Knicks needed to find another scoring option.

J.R. Smith had no problem filling the void.

The Knicks' sixth man had 14 points on 6-for-9 shooting in 16 minutes. He was aggressive on the offensive end and played solid defense against Kobe Bryant. Smith's athleticism was on full display -- he hit a fallaway jumper from beyond the arc with the shot clock winding down in the second quarter, to the dismay of the Staples Center crowd.

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE FOR ANTHONY: Anthony had five quick points against Lakers rookie Darius Morris. But he had a tough time once the Lakers asked Metta World Peace to guard him.

Anthony went 4-for-11 in the first half and finished with ten points and five rebounds. He also picked up three fouls in the first half as World Peace, who had 16 points in the second quarter, seemed to get under his skin at times.

HELLO, MARCUS: For the first time since Nov. 26, Marcus Camby got into a game for the Knicks.

He had four points and three rebounds in six minutes. His presence took some of the burden off of Knicks center Tyson Chandler, who played 18 minutes in the first half.

Camby, though, nearly put a damper on the Knicks season when he drove to the basket and banged into Anthony's left knee. Anthony was hobbled but remained in the game.

PAINT POINTS: The Lakers, thanks mostly to a dominant front line, outscored the Knicks, 22-10 in the paint. They outscored New York, 14-2, in paint points in the first quarter. The Knicks shot 4-for-13 from three.