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Volume 24 No. 158
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DO PLAYOFFS BRING OUT THE BEST IN THE NETS THAT CARRY THEM?

          The NBA and NHL playoffs dominated this past weekend's     TV sports coverage.  USA TODAY reports that Fox's NHL     regional action on Sunday averaged a 2.3, down 8% from '97,     while ESPN's ratings fell 38% to a .5 and ESPN2's "tumbled"     29%, also to .5, for the first three nights of the playoffs     (USA TODAY, 4/28).  In DC, Leonard Shapiro examines Fox's     coverage of Sunday's Capitals-Bruins game under the header,     "Upon Further Review, Fox, NHL, Got It Right."  Shapiro     writes that "for the most part, Fox provided an ...     outstanding broadcast, particularly on the production end."      He adds that viewers "were shown fabulous camera angles and     replays galore," and notes that Fox's "ability to put     microphones all over ... enhanced the coverage" (WASHINGTON     POST, 4/28).  In Boston, Jim Greenidge reports that Sunday's     Caps-Bruins game earned Fox's best-ever numbers in that     market, posting an 8.2/17.  The rating peaked at 9.1 during     the second overtime (Jim Greenidge, BOSTON GLOBE, 4/28).          NBA ACTION: USA TODAY's reports that NBC's weekend     playoff ratings dipped 6% to a 6.7.  While Sunday's rating     was "about even" with the '97 number, Saturday's number     dropped 12%.  TNT's Thursday/Friday NBA coverage jumped 21%     from '97, to a 2.3 from 1.9 (USA TODAY, 4/28).  In Houston,     David Barron writes that TNT's 2.9 rating for Rockets-Jazz     Game One on Thursday is its highest number so far.      Saturday's Game Two of the Rockets-Jazz earned an 11.7/22     local rating on Houston's KHTV (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 4/28).      In N.Y., Richard Sandomir reviews NBC's pairing of Doug     Collins and Isiah Thomas on its No. 1 NBA broadcast team,     calling it "flawed."  Thomas, writes Sandomir, "has improved     since his awkward start ... [b]ut [he] is not a No. 1     analyst, and no one should have expected him to be."  Noting     that Collins was hired "because he became the best NBA     analyst" at TNT, Sandomir asks, "Why hire the best only to     make him split time with a rookie?" (N.Y. TIMES, 4/28).           CATCH AIR: Turner Sports will unveil the new     SporTVision System technology, which measures a player's     vertical leap, during tonight's Heat-Knicks broadcast from     MSG.  Turner will also use the measuring system, known as     AIRf/x, on tomorrow's Nets-Bulls game (SporTVision).