Wednesday’s game between the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Lakers was the highest-rated NBA preseason game on ESPN, according to Nielsen. It delivered a 1.6 metered market rating, with a 1.9 peaked rating from 8:30-8:45 p.m. PT.
The telecast was up 129 percent from a comparable game last year, which drew a 0.7 rating. The matchup in Las Vegas broke the previous record on ESPN that was set when the Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Chicago Bulls last preseason.
The game drew a 3.5 rating in the Los Angeles market and generated a 6.2 rating in the San Francisco/Oakland market.
While it was merely a preseason game, it was also the first between the Lakers and Warriors since both made a splash in free agency. Moreover, there was the added buzz because of history between James and the back-to-back champions.
That it was played in Las Vegas also added to the excitement level. Both teams got off to running starts, making for an entertaining first quarter and half. James didn’t play after the second quarter, but finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds and five assists.
He went out in grand fashion by making a buzzer-beater to give the Lakers a four-point advantage at halftime.
Lonzo Ball showed encouraging flashes in his return, playing 23 minutes off the bench. More importantly, Ball said his knee didn’t cause any issues, and he found an early chemistry playing alongside James and Rajon Rondo.
The Lakers and Warriors meet again Friday for the the final preseason game.
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