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Volume 24 No. 157
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Lakers, Heat, Knicks Lead '13-14 TV Games, While Rockets Make Jump In Appearances

The NBA released its '13-14 schedule last night, and the Lakers, Heat and Knicks lead all teams on TV with 25 scheduled appearances across TNT, ESPN and ABC, followed by the Thunder and Bulls with 24, the Clippers with 21 and the Rockets with 20. The Oct. 29 opening night features a tripleheader of Bulls-Heat, Magic-Pacers and Clippers-Lakers. Both L.A. teams are part of the Christmas lineup, along with Bulls-Nets, Thunder-Knicks, Heat-Lakers, Rockets-Spurs and Clippers-Warriors. ESPN will air 75 nationally-televised games, with 15 exclusively on ABC. The ESPN schedule will begin with a doubleheader on Friday, Nov. 1 featuring Heat-Nets and Spurs-Lakers. The ABC/ESPN schedules include 16 appearances by the Heat and Knicks and more than a dozen appearances by the Lakers, Thunder and Bulls. TNT in its 30th year of NBA coverage will televise 52 games during the season, including 10 appearances by the Clippers, Lakers and Thunder. TNT also will feature nine appearances by the Heat, Knicks, Bulls and Rockets. The net will televise 20 Thursday-night doubleheaders this season. NBA TV will televise 97 live games this season, and for the fifth consecutive year, the net's "Fan Night" will return on Tuesdays (THE DAILY). ESPN's Avery Johnson discussed the games in the N.Y. area in February, noting Heat-Knicks will be the day before the Super Bowl. Johnson said, "It's great for the NBA because even though the Super Bowl is going to be drawing millions and millions of fans from around the world, the NBA is still going to be front and center" ("SportsCenter," ESPN, 8/6).

: In Houston, David Barron noted the Rockets, after acquiring C Dwight Howard in free agency, "will make at least 26 appearances" on national TV this season, "one year removed from a season in which they were afterthoughts as blockbuster attractions for national television programmers." Last year's schedule, which came out before G James Harden's trade from the Thunder, "included just two Rockets games on ESPN’s initial schedule and no games on ABC or TNT." The Rockets this year are "among six teams with the maximum 10 appearances" on ESPN and one of seven teams "with at least nine games on TNT." The team's "expanded national visibility will be a boon to fans shut out last season because of the limited availability of Comcast SportsNet Houston." Whether that "higher national profile will help or hurt CSN Houston’s carriage talks" is a "question that may be answered between now and the season opener" (, 8/6).

MUST-SEE TV? USA TODAY's Sean Highkin writes despite "very real shortcomings and indications that [the Lakers] won’t be very good, they will be on national TV more times this season than all but three teams." The team's 29 appearances, which includes NBA TV appearances, are up from 28 last season. They had 25 national games both in '10-11 and '09-10, two seasons in which they were "coming off NBA titles." Highkin: "Obviously, the Lakers have a huge global fanbase. ... But 29 games, and a marquee Christmas Day matchup with the Heat that will almost certainly be a blowout, feels excessive" (, 8/6).