ESPN reported Tuesday that its telecast of Friday's game between the Lakers and Houston Rockets, featuring O'Neal against the 7-foot-5 Yao for the first time, was the second most-viewed regular-season game on cable television.
The ESPN telecast averaged 3,326,000 households nationally. The only regular-season game to do better was Johnson's second game out of retirement against Jordan and the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 2, 1996. That game averaged 4,745,000 households on TNT.
In Los Angeles, Friday's game, a 108-104 overtime victory for the Rockets, was viewed in 553,000 homes on Channel 9 and 191,000 homes on ESPN. Channel 9 drew a 10.4 rating with a 17% share of the audience, while ESPN got a 3.6 with a 9 share.
ESPN got a 3.82 national cable rating for the game. A cable rating covers only cable households, which number around 87 million nationally. There are about 107 million television households overall.
-- Larry Stewart
Antoine Walker is expected to sit out up to two weeks because of a knee injury sustained in the Boston Celtics' comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Monday.
An MRI taken Tuesday, one day after Boston's 100-99 win, showed a mild ligament sprain of his right knee. Walker was hurt in the third quarter.
From Associated Press