The NBA's top rivalry drew TNT's third-largest audience of the 2010-11 season.
The drama network's coverage of the Los Angeles Lakers' triumph over their nemesis the Boston Celtics on Feb. 10 averaged a 3.3 national rating, translating into some 4.7 million viewers, according to Nielsen data.
The win by the two-time defending champion in TD Bank Garden trailed TNT's Oct. 26 season opening telecast of the Celtics-Miami Heat, which dunked an all-time, regular-season, cable -best 7.43 million viewers, and 7.09 million for the Heat-Cleveland Cavaliers on Dec. 2, 2010, when LeBron James returned to Quickens Loan Arena for the first time after taking his talents to South Beach.
Buoyed by those and other contests, TNT, through 34 games, has averaged a 1.5 U.S. rating (+25%, 1.2 rating), 2.36 million total viewers (+33%, 1.77 million), 1.76 million (+30%, 1.35 million) over last year's corresponding coverage.
That puts TNT on pace to record its most-watched season during its 27 years covering the pro hoops circuit.