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BASKETBALL—NBA: The Lakers were on one of those streaks that champions are made of. Atlanta, the Western Division's regular-season winner, could only battle for survival after Wilt & Company claimed consecutive playoff victories of 119-115, 105-94 and 115-114 in overtime (page 12). Yes, it was Chamberlain who surprisingly swished two free throws to pull out the overtime win before 17,183 at Los Angeles' Forum. Wilt, who shoots only 40% when he can see straight, had been poked in the eye just before stepping to the line but still managed the feat. The Lakers took the fourth game 133-114 despite the last-ditch try of the Hawks' player-coach, Richie Guerin, who scored 31 points. In the Eastern series, the Knicks won a 112-111 thriller at the Garden behind Willis Reed's 36 points. Lew Alcindor, who missed two key free throws in the last minute of that one, redeemed himself at Milwaukee with a spectacular performance that netted 33 points, 31 rebounds, five assists and a 101-96 Buck victory that cut New York's margin to 2-1.
ABA: Amidst denials of a proposed merger with the NBA ("premature"), the younger league concluded its third season and opened playoff action. Indiana, champion of the East, capped things in style with a single-game scoring mark of 177 points against Pittsburgh, then opened with a 123-105 playoff victory over Carolina as Freddie Lewis scored 29 points. Western titlist Denver, which received a record 59 points from Spencer Haywood in its regular-season finale, also began playoff action with a bang. The Rockets surged from behind to down Washington 130-111, then opened up in the second game for a 143-133 win and a 2-0 lead. Underdog Los Angeles, the West's fourth-place team, stunned Dallas in the opener 115-103 as 7' Center Craig Raymond proved impenetrable on defense. The Chaparrals rallied for a series-squaring 129-121 victory, despite blowing a 19-point lead. Kentucky and New York split two close ones in the East. The Nets took the opener in overtime, 122-118, behind Levern Tart's 46 points, but Darrel Carrier's jump shot with four seconds left gave the Colonels a 113-111 win in the next outing.
Final regular-season standings: EAST—Indiana 59-25, Kentucky 45-39, Carolina 42-42, New York 39-45, Pittsburgh 29-55, Miami 23-61. WEST—Denver 51-33, Dallas 45-39, Washington 44-40, Los Angeles 43-41, New Orleans 42-42.
COLLEGE: JOHN RINKA, 5'9", of Kenyon College became the first player in NCAA history to capture both scoring and free-throw percentage crowns in the same season, according to final college-division statistics. Rinka, who averaged 41.0 points and hit 88.97% at the line, repeated as scoring champ and achieved the all-time best small-college career mark (32.8) as well.
BOXING—In a savage 15-round bout with his fellow Mexican, Chucho Castillo, undefeated RUBEN OLIVARES gained a unanimous decision to retain his world bantamweight championship in Los Angeles (page 18).
HOCKEY—While Boston polished off the Rangers 4-2 to gain the playoff semifinals against Chicago (page 20), St. Louis broke a deadlock with Minnesota and eased into the semifinal with Pittsburgh by taking the series 4-2. North Star Goalie Cesare Maniago foiled 34 St. Louis scoring attempts in a 4-0 victory that evened the series, but the Blues roared back. Scoring three goals within little more than seven minutes in the final period, St. Louis took a 6-3 victory. Goals by Terry Gray, Jim Roberts and Red Berenson helped overcome an early Minnesota lead. In the finale, the Blues took advantage of North Star penalties in the second period as Ab McDonald and Berenson fired home two goals in 47 seconds and the Blues went on to win 4-2.
HORSE RACING—They churned down the stretch, a trio of 3-year-olds locked in a gallant struggle for the $117,800 Wood Memorial and a possible favorite's role at the Kentucky Derby (page 24). Finally, it was Mrs. Ethel D. Jacobs' PERSONALITY ($8.20), Eddie Belmonte aboard, who edged favored Silent Screen and topped the 14-horse field in 1:49[2/5] for the 1? miles at Aqueduct.
In another test for 3-year-olds on the West Coast, favored GEORGE LEWIS ($3.60), an Alan Magerman entry ridden by Bill Hartack, withstood two foul claims and won the 55th California Derby by two lengths.
TENNIS—It will be Australia and India in the Davis Cup's Eastern Zone finals. Alan Stone and Dick Crealy took opening singles matches and the Aussies followed with a doubles victory to post an unbeatable 3-0 lead over Japan in Tokyo. India followed the same pattern to gain a 3-0 edge over Ceylon in Bombay. In the South American Zone, Colombia routed Uruguay and won the right to meet Brazil in the final. In the Carolinas International tournament, unheralded Australian ROBERT CARMICHAEL downed Manuel Santana and Clark Graebner on the same day to reach the men's finals against CLIFF RICHEY. Continuing Australia's seemingly invincible week, KERRY MELVILLE ousted America's top-seeded Billie Jean King to reach the women's singles finals of the Monaco Open.