NEW YORK -- The highly anticipated first matchup between the new-look Miami Heat and the defending-champion Los Angeles Lakers drew the highest television rating for an NBA regular-season game on ABC since 2004.
Miami's 96-80 Christmas win earned a 6.4 fast national rating Saturday. That's up 45 percent over the game in the same window last year, also a matchup between Los Angeles and LeBron James, then with the Cleveland Cavaliers.
It's the best since a 7.3 for another Heat-Lakers meeting on Christmas six years earlier.
The average rating for the three games on ESPN increased 20 percent from a year ago.
Ratings measure the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned into a program.