Merry Christmas from Hoops Rumors! There’s plenty of NBA action set to take place today, including an intriguing matchup between the Heat and Lakers. In the preseason, this game was billed as a would-be face-off in Los Angeles between LeBron James and a recently having-returned Kobe Bryant. Unfortunately, Bryant finds himself sidelined once again and won’t be playing anytime soon. This will mark the first time time that Bryant has missed a game on Christmas since 1991. Let’s take a look at a few NBA notes from within the state of California..
- Ramona Shelburne over at ESPNLosAngeles.com examines how different the Lakers are without Bryant, and not just for his on-court heroics. She points to his strong leadership and work ethic that are missed by teammates and goes on to suggest that in his absence, the club has struggled to find its identity.
- Matt Barnes was a “big advocate” of Stephen Jackson signing with the Clippers, reports Eric Patten of Clippers.com. Barnes and Jackson are good friends and have a similar hard-nosed demeanor on the court. They were teammates in Golden State for several years but haven’t found themselves playing together since the conclusion of the 2007/08 NBA season.
- Ailene Voisin from the Sacramento Bee writes that despite being the last pick in the 2011 draft, Isaiah Thomas has outperformed all the other players who have competed to be the starting point guard for the Kings, including Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette, Aaron Brooks, and Greivis Vasquez. Says Thomas: “I’ve always had to prove something… I still look at getting picked last as being disrespected. Some teams passed on me twice. The Lakers had four picks and passed on me four times. The questions, all that stuff, it just motivates me.”