NBA's return draws big TV ratings on Christmas

NBA's return draws big TV ratings on Christmas

NEW YORK — 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 averaged 6.2 million viewers based on fast national ratings, up from 6 million last year.

The Bulls-Lakers matchup was the third most-watched regular-season game ever on ABC, behind only last year's highly anticipated Heat-Lakers showdown and another meeting between Miami and LA in 2004.

Chris Paul's Clippers debut in the nightcap against the Warriors earned a 2.2 rating, up 69 percent over last year's Portland-Golden State telecast in the same slot.

It was ESPN's highest-rated Christmas prime-time game. The day's first contest, Celtics-Knicks on TNT, was the most viewed Christmas game ever on cable. The 4.0 rating was up 48 percent from last year's Bulls-Knicks game on ESPN.

NEW YORK — Boston Celtics power forward Kevin Garnett will not face discipline from the NBA over an altercation with Knicks guard Bill Walker after Sunday's 106-104 loss, CBS Sports reported, citing a source.

Garnett missed a shot to tie the game at the buzzer and got into a heated exchange with Walker, placing his hand around his throat before the pair were separated by players and coaches.

Walker had contested Garnett's missed 14-footer and the Celtics big man became physical afterward, according to Walker. The Knicks reserve swingman claimed he did not make a comment to incite Garnett, the New York Post reported.

Torrealba suspendedby Venezuela league

CARACAS, Venezuela — Texas Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba has been suspended from Venezuela's professional baseball league for 66 games for striking an umpire.

Torrealba was arguing with the home-plate umpire Friday after striking out. He angrily put a hand on the umpire's mask and shoved him. He was then ejected.

League President Jose Grasso Vecchio called Torrealba's behavior unacceptable and a violation of league rules.

Torrealba plays for the Caracas Lions when not playing in the majors.

Compile from wire reports