The Miami Heat's 107-97 win over the Los Angeles Lakers Sunday afternoon on ABC drew a 5.0 overnight rating. Excluding Christmas Day games, it's good for the second-highest regular season overnight on ABC since they've been airing the NBA in 2002. This year's game trails just a Lakers-Heat matchup from last March, and is tied with a Lakers-Cavaliers game from February 2009 and a Lakers-Celtics game from January 2011.
Despite the Lakers' struggles this season, they're still a national draw, and that's why you're going to continue to hear them talked about incessantly on ESPN. Every sport has a team like them, the Yankees and Patriots being two examples, that will continue to get publicity from the mainstream media even when the team is struggling.
Back to the rating for a minute, the Lakers have been involved in the top five non-Christmas regular season overnights on ABC, and seven of the top ten. The NBA is also thriving after the lockout that delayed the start of the 2011-12 season, with six of those top ten overnights coming since the lockout. For all the concern over what long term effects the lockout would have, the NBA continues to take gigantic steps forward and winds up in a better position than they were before the stoppage.
[Sports Media Watch]