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The N.B.A. and its players reached an agreement early Saturday morning, officially ending the second-longest lockout in the history of the league.

The final negotiations took 15 hours, but it was ultimately decided that a 66-game compressed regular season will begin on Christmas Day, according to the New York Times.

NBA Cancels First 2 Weeks of Season

"We've reached a tentative understanding that is subject to a variety of approvals and very complex machinations," N.B.A. commissioner, David Stern

, said at 3:40 a.m., "but we're optimistic that that will all come to pass, and that the N.B.A. season will begin on Dec. 25, Christmas Day, with a tripleheader."For now, the regularly scheduled Christmas games will be played as planned: Boston Celtics vs. the New York Knicks, followed by the Miami Heat vs. the Dallas Mavericks and the Chicago Bulls vs. the Los Angeles Lakers. The remainder of the schedule, which will need to be tweaked in order to accommodate for the lost time, should be released within the next few days.

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"We're really excited," said Peter Holt, the San Antonio Spurs owner and chairman of the league's labor-relations committee. "We're excited for the fans. We're excited to start playing basketball, for players, for everybody involved."