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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Thurs., Feb. 17) -- CBS11 kayos WFAA8 with help from Troy/Tracy/Mentalist

These are not the best of times for WFAA8, which on Thursday took a thumping at 10 p.m. from arch rival CBS11 and its calculated but canny use of two former WFAA8 stars.

CBS11 began the second half of the February ratings "sweeps" by reuniting anchor Tracy Rowlett and weathercaster Troy Dungan, both of whom became big stars at WFAA8 but hadn't been together on a news set in almost 12 years, according to CBS11 anchor Karen Borta.

The usual hefty Thursday night lead-in from The Mentalist didn't hurt. But CBS11 kept a big chunk of that audience in routing WFAA8 and further lengthening its 10 p.m. lead in total viewers.

The last 15 minutes of The Mentalist had 387,839 D-FW viewers, with CBS11's newscast then drawing 346,285. WFAA8, which won the November sweeps by a narrow margin over CBS11, managed a runner-up 200,845 viewers, improving a bit on the 180,068 viewers it inherited from the last 15 minutes of ABC's Private Practice.

CBS11 also easily beat second place WFAA8 at 10 p.m. among 25-to-54-year-olds, the main advertiser target audience for news programming. Borta profiled Dungan on Thursday's edition and will do the same with Rowlett on Friday. Rowlett and Borta teamed for a decade after he jumped from WFAA8 to CBS11 in 1999. The former WFAA8 mainstays, both of whom worked for more than a quarter-century at the station, have remained off-camera pals but hadn't been seen together on a newscast since Rowlett left WFAA8.

In the prime-time ratings, Fox's American Idol again was Thursday's biggest draw, amassing 560,982 total viewers in the 7 p.m. hour.

At 8 p.m., Justin Bieber's guest appearance on CBS' CSI: Crime Scene Investigation -- he climactically died in a hail of bullets -- did not seem to help the long-running show in D-FW's Nielsen numbers. CSI tied for second with ABC's Grey's Anatomy in total viewers, with Fox's Bones the leader. And it beat only NBC's 8:30 p.m. episode of Parks and Recreation among advertiser-coveted 18-to-49-year-olds.

On TNT, the late-starting Dallas Mavericks game -- a win at Phoenix that stretched past midnight -- averaged a respectable 145,440 total viewers to beat all competing post-10 p.m. newscast programming. It was the last game before the All-Star break, and the Mavs' 40th win. Is it time to start getting excited about this team again, despite all the disappointing post-season developments in recent seasons? To quote Marv Albert, who called last night's game, "Yesssssssssssssss!" I genuinely think the Mavs are for real, barring any key injuries. Another plus: Dirk Nowitzki emerged from a long sleepwalk to bust out with 35 points. Injuries had knocked him off his feed, but it was starting to look as though he'd never regain his form. On Thursday night, he looked very much like the team-carrying Dirk of old. But this time he has all kinds of support on a very deep and veteran team.

OK, back to our regularly scheduled ratings summary for the other local news derby results.

Fox4 scored another doubleheader win at 6 a.m. and also took the 5 p.m. gold with 25-to-54-year-olds.

CBS11 won at 6 p.m. in total viewers and tied Fox4 for first place in the 25-to-54 demographic. The 5 p.m. top spot in total viewers also went to CBS11.