Posted Dec 26 2011 1:45PM
NEW YORK (AP) -- NBA fans seem more excited about basketball's return than bitter about the lockout based on television ratings for the league's delayed openers.
The five Christmas games Sunday attracted large audiences, with the Bulls-Lakers matchup drawing the third-highest preliminary rating for a regular-season game on ABC. The 6.5 overnight rating trailed only a 7.3 for last year's highly anticipated Heat-Lakers showdown and a 7.9 for another meeting between Miami and LA in 2004.
Chris Paul's Clippers debut in the nightcap against the Warriors earned a 2.3 overnight, up 77 percent over last year's Portland-Golden State telecast. It was ESPN's highest-rated Christmas prime-time game.
The earlier night game on ESPN -- Magic-Thunder -- drew a 1.9 overnight, up 36 percent from to last year's Denver-Oklahoma City matchup. The afternoon's finals rematch on ABC, the Heat's rout of the Mavericks, earned a 5.6 overnight, up 6 percent from Boston-Orlando last year.
The Celtics-Knicks game on TNT to open the day drew a 4.1 overnight. The early game on ESPN last year, Bulls-Knicks, had a 2.7 on ESPN.
Ratings represent the percentage of all homes with televisions tuned to a program. Overnight ratings measure the country's largest markets.
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