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Lakers Get Christmas Date

Basketball: L.A. to open ABC's coverage with Dec. 25 game against the Kings at Staples Center.


ABC, which has the NBA for the first time since the 1972-73 season, will begin its coverage with a Christmas Day doubleheader featuring the Lakers and Sacramento Kings in a 5:30 p.m. game at Staples Center.

The other ABC game has the Boston Celtics playing at the New Jersey Nets at 3 p.m., according to the NBA schedule released Thursday. Detroit visits Orlando at 11 a.m. in a game that ESPN will televise that day.

ABC will televise 14 regular-season games, with the Lakers appearing a maximum of four times. Other teams making four appearances on the network will be the Kings, Dallas Mavericks and Philadelphia 76ers.

ABC will have Philadelphia-Dallas on Jan. 4 (a Saturday), then start regular weekly Sunday coverage Feb. 16.

The Lakers begin their bid for a fourth consecutive NBA championship Oct. 29, when they play host to the San Antonio Spurs. That game will be part of the national doubleheader on TNT but will be televised by Fox Sports Net in Los Angeles.

The Lakers will raise their championship banner and collect their rings in a ceremony before the game against the Spurs.

There will be 14 games on Oct. 30, and ESPN will televise a doubleheader featuring Washington at Toronto followed by the Lakers at Portland. The Laker game will also be televised by Channel 9.

The NBA is returning to ESPN for the first time since the 1983-84 season as part of a new six-year television contract.

ESPN will televise 68 games and ESPN2 will televise eight. The ESPN schedule will generally consist of a Wednesday night game and a Friday doubleheader.

There will be no blackouts of ESPN telecasts.

On Nov. 15, ESPN will televise Houston at Phoenix, which will mark the first national telecast with top draft pick Yao Ming of the Rockets. Two nights later, Ming and the Rockets will play the Lakers at Staples Center.

Turner Sports, which will be televising the NBA for a 19th consecutive season, will air 52 regular-season games on TNT, with 48 of those as part of Thursday night doubleheaders. TNT will also televise the All-Star game Feb. 9 at Atlanta.

There are also expected to be four games a week on a new outlet, probably NBA TV, which is available on satellite and digital cable. AOL Time Warner, TNT's parent company, bought 11% interest in NBA TV for $45 million.

Channel 9 will continue to televise Laker road games not on ABC, with Fox Sports Net televising the non-ABC home games.

The Clippers, who were not on an over-the-air station last season, will have 25 games televised on Channel 5.


Times staff writer Tim Brown contributed to this story.

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