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Volume 24 No. 157
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NBA Media Notes: Kobe's Injury Dampens Marquee Christmas Matchup On ABC

In L.A., Tom Hoffarth wonders if there is any way for the Lakers "to opt out" of their Christmas Day game against the Heat, and if it is "too late" for ABC to switch to the Clippers-Warriors game. The net has had the Heat-Lakers game "pegged as the marquee matchup at the heart of its five-game slate" for Christmas, but Lakers G Kobe Bryant Thursday was announced to be out for six weeks with a knee injury. ESPN's Jeff Van Gundy endorsed "some kind of NFL-type flex scheduling that could be made at the discretion of the NBA, ESPN and ABC." But Hoffarth noted doing that for the "Christmas lineup that is announced months before the season begins would make things pretty dicey" (L.A. DAILY NEWS, 12/20).

SCRATCHING THE SURFACE: Spurs F Tim Duncan and Gs Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker did not play Thursday against the Warriors, and ESPN's Tony Kornheiser noted it was the second "nationally televised game on TNT" in as many years that the team did not dress several of its star players. While Parker is hurt, Duncan and Ginobili were "healthy scratches" and Kornheiser said TNT "has to be crazed about this." ESPN's Michael Wilbon said, "I know this hurts TNT. It hurts ESPN when they do it on one of our games. But he's coaching his team." Kornheiser asked, "What about the people who buy a ticket to see the Spurs? ... What will they get?" ("PTI," ESPN, 12/19).

: Wednesday's Pacers-Heat game on ESPN earned a 2.4 overnight Nielsen rating, the highest overnight for an NBA regular-season game on the net to date this season. The 2.4 also is up 50% from the comparable Nets-Knicks game last year, which earned a 1.6 overnight. The game earned a 6.7 local rating in Indianapolis and a 5.7 in Miami-Ft. Lauderdale. Wednesday's Bulls-Rockets contest, the second half of ESPN's NBA doubleheader, earned a 1.7 overnight, up 55% from last season's comparable Bucks-Grizzlies game (ESPN).