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Lakers-Rockets ratings soar for Game 2 after NHL has big day

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The NBA television ratings continue to be up and down in second round, but at least the Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets on Sunday night rose higher than anything else the league has experienced since the Disney restart.

That's the great news.

The not-so-great is that both Saturday games (Los Angeles Clippers vs. Denver Nuggets and Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics) were even with or slightly worse than an NHL playoff Game 7 between the New York Islanders and Philadelphia Flyers on NBC.

Now, before basketball fans (and foes) get all up in arms about that, a few things should be considered:

  • The Islanders-Flyers game was indeed a Game 7. Meaning it had more significance that the two NBA games, which were both early in their respective series.
  • The Islanders-Flyers game followed the Kentucky Derby. As anyone in television will tell you, having a popular "lead-in" program cannot be understated.
  • Along with all that, the Islanders-Flyers Game 7 averaged a 1.4 rating and 2.96 viewers -- making it the most-watched NHL game in five years. So it's not like the NBA games any old hockey game.
  • Finally, it should be noted that the NHL game was on network television (NBC), while the NBA games were broadcast on cable (TNT). Networks have historically been available to more homes.
  • That said, it's very rare for an NBA playoff game to ever tie or lose a day to the NHL, even during the Stanley Cup finals.

Now, back to the good news, and that centers on the Lakers-Rockets and their Western semifinal Game 2 on Sunday night. When it comes to the NBA  restart, nobody has fared better.

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In fact, nobody has really fared much better even before the league went on hiatus.

The numbers show that the Lakers-Rockets game was the most-watched NBA game since Christmas. It also was the fourth most-watched sporting event since NFL Draft, and the highest-rated in 18-34 demographic since NBA All-Star Game.

So what have we learned?

Well, the same thing we always knew about the NBA. The further LeBron James goes in the playoffs, the better the ratings (at least for his games) seem to be.

For the NBA, the problem seems to be the games involving too many of the other teams, or more specifically, the regular season (even before the hiatus) and first round of the playoffs.

Now, the league will have to go up against the NFL, which kicks off this week. That includes the Lakers-Rockets series. Game 4 will square off Thursday with the NFL's season-opener between the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans.