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Heat-Lakers earns best rating since '04

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.

ESPN said Monday the Celtics-Magic game on ABC drew a 4.6, up 39 percent from the matchup between the same teams last season.

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.