(Sports Network) - The New York Knicks have been dominant in nearly a two- month span and will put their winning ways to the test Sunday night in a showdown against the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center.
New York has won three straight, 18 of 24 games since mid-November and opened a four-game road trip with a 121-96 triumph at Phoenix on Friday. Amare Stoudemire had 23 points and nine rebounds in his return to Phoenix after spending the first eight years of his career with the Suns. He was acquired by the Knicks in a sign-and-trade deal and was rewarded with a five-year deal worth almost $100 million.
"I had one objective and that was to dominate from the start," Stoudemire said. "That was my main goal was to dominate from the get go. I got it going early. Then in the second half they went to a zone and my teammates got it going. The great thing about our team is that we're so versatile that no matter how teams play us we can adjust."
Raymond Felton made five three-pointers en route to 23 points and also provided 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his first career triple-double. Wilson Chandler notched 16 points and six rebounds, while Landry Fields ended with 14 points and 10 boards for the Knicks, who are 11-7 away from Madison Square Garden and will also visit Portland and Utah on the trek.
The Knicks buried 17-of-33 three-pointers to match a season high. The 17 threes were also second-most in franchise history. New York is 21-14 in 2010-11 and didn't post 21 wins until March last season.
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 25 points and Pau Gasol contributed 21 points, 13 rebounds and seven assists for the Lakers, who are 13-5 as the host this season and won for the 10th time in 14 tries. Bryant achieved another milestone in his Hall of Fame career and passed Hall-of-Famer Oscar Robertson for sole possession of ninth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list.
"It's a huge honor to climb the ladder once again, especially to get past Oscar. He was a great player," said Bryant, who's now closing in on former Houston Rockets phenom Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) for eighth on the list. Bryant currently has 26,720 career points.
The Lakers swept last season's series with New York, 2-0, for the third consecutive year. New York has lost three straight and six of its last seven contests at the Lakers. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 15-5 against the Knickerbockers.