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Local Nielsen ratings snapshot (Fri.-Sun., May 20-22) -- Mavs get upper hand against OKC, but numbers again fall off

The Matrix led the Mav' Saturday night victory march. Photo: Ed Bark

Measurements of sports bar viewing remain highly imprecise at best, which might account for some of the Saturday night shortfall for the Dallas Mavericks' defensive-minded playoff win at Oklahoma City.

Still, you'd think that in-home interest at least would match that of Game 2. But not quite. Game 3 on ESPN (8:07 to 10:45 p.m.) averaged 727,199 D-FW viewers, down from 741,050 for Game 2 and 803,381 for the opener of the Western Conference championship series. Dallas now leads 2-1, with two more wins putting the Mavs in the NBA Finals for the first time since 2006.

The game's appeal among motherlode 18-to-49-year-olds also slipped a bit, with 417,906 in this age range watching Game 3 compared to 434,359 for Game 2 and 450,812 for Game 1.

That's still total dominance of the weekend Nielsens. And Game 2 did manage a moral victory with an overall peak audience of 983,449 in the final 15-minute increment. That outpointed Game 2's high point of 941,895.

Game 4 against the Thunder is Monday at 8 p.m. on ESPN, with the competition including the second hour of ABC's final Dancing With the Stars performance show followed by the latest season premiere of The Bachelorette. Mavs-Thunder will no doubt will whip both attractions, but the overall audience could be diminished a bit before many viewers again take a hike from local 10 p.m. newscasts to watch the game's denouement.

Also on Saturday night, the season finale of NBC's Saturday Night Live, with host Justin Timberlake and heavy participation by Lady Gaga, drew a nice-sized 228,548 viewers to easily outdraw all prime-time programming except Mavs-Thunder. But the 15-minute increment of The Preakness on NBC galloped to a surprisingly strong 318,582 viewers early Saturday evening, pulling an appreciably bigger audience than the Kentucky Derby two weeks earlier (

Over on Fox4 Saturday night, the struggling Texas Rangers' road loss to the Phillies (at the hands of former Ranger ace Cliff Lee) managed 152,365 viewers in falling a bit short of CBS' 8 p.m. Crimetime Saturday repeat (159,291 viewers). ABC's three-hour reprise of Spiderman 3 barely wove a web with a scant 48,480 viewers.