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Lakers-Celtics give NBA biggest audience since ’98

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The final score of the Lakers-Celtics NBA Game 7: 28.2 million. That’s the total audience for Thursday’s broadcast, according to Nielsen, making it the most-watched NBA game since Game 6 of the 1998 NBA Finals, when Michael Jordan’s Chicago farewell against Utah attracted 35.9 million viewers.

The game had a 11.4 rating and 33 share among viewers 18-49.

This year’s finale drew twice as many viewers as the final game of the 2009 NBA Finals between the Lakers and Orlando Magic (14.2 million viewers).The final game of the 2008 NBA Finals between Boston and Los Angeles had 16.9 million viewers, and the finale of the 2007 Finals between San Antonio and Cleveland (a four-game sweep) had 9.91 million viewers.

Tonight, Jimmy Kimmel’s latenight show is dispensing with its customary Friday repeat for a fresh episode that will have Lakers star Kobe Bryant and backbone Derek Fisher among the guests. Teammate Pau Gasol, meanwhile, will stop by “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.”

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