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BASKETBALL—ABA: The Kentucky Colonels, winners of 13 of their last 14 after a miserable 2-4 start, took over the East Division lead when Virginia lost to Memphis 119-103. The Squires fell again to the surging Floridians 127-115 before rebounding against Indiana and Pittsburgh. Kentucky, however, wasn't losing at all as new Coach Frank Ramsey enjoyed three straight victories. The West Division also tightened when season-long leader Utah lost twice, once to second-place Indiana 125-122. The Floridians' defeat of Virginia was one of four straight that brought their record to the .500 level. A 147-132 victory over Texas, which plays defense like it never heard of the Alamo, was tine Floridians' top output of the year. A 122-116 victory in Pittsburgh was played before a crowd of 8,074—four times normal size-but every ticket was a freebie, part of a Condor promotional effort. Denver's best court performance of the week came in a federal judge's chambers in Los Angeles, where it was ruled that rebellious superstar Spencer Haywood must fulfill his $1.9-million Rocket contract.
NBA: The Milwaukee Bucks have won 13 straight games and are making a shambles of the Midwest Division race. Of Milwaukee's four victories last week, two were at the expense of division leaders, Baltimore of the Central (105-90) and Los Angeles of the Pacific (117-100). The others came against San Francisco, 119-100 and 127-102, and after one of them Oscar Robertson said. "We're going to get beat. It's coming. But if we do, we're going out and win 10 more in a row." Milwaukee's success has been heightened by the failures of Detroit, which opened with nine consecutive wins and later dropped six in a row before finally beating Phoenix 112-110. Atlanta continues to be the year's most disappointing team, but Pete Maravich is looking less and less like the million-dollar flop he seemed earlier. He scored 28 points in a 116-105 loss to Los Angeles, his pro career high until he hit 32 twice—against Portland (a 146-131 defeat) and Baltimore (a 130-103 victory). New York continued to hold on to the Atlantic Division lead despite a rash of injuries that included one to leading scorer, rebounder, captain and moving spirit Willis Reed. With Reed limping, the Knicks lost to Philadelphia 113-106 and Cincinnati 106-98 and had to struggle to get by Cleveland 102-94.
BOXING—JOE FRAZIER flattened Bob Foster with only 49 seconds gone in the second round to retain his world heavyweight title in Detroit. Foster was the eighth light-heavyweight king to try unsuccessfully for the heavyweight crown. Frazier's probable next challenger: Muhammad Ali (page 20).
FOOTBALL—The pro football merger into two conferences of three divisions each has imposed an awkward playoff situation, whereby the highest finisher among the also-rans in each conference joins the division champs in the postseason derby. Although most of the divisions remained tightly knotted after Sunday's action, some of the NFL's contenders have begun eyeing those "at-large" playoff spots as their championship ambitions dwindle. Only NFC Central leader MINNESOTA, a 10-3 winner over Green Bay, seems assured of an outright division title. Second-place DETROIT, following its crucial 28-7 defeat of Western leader San Francisco, was one of those most in contention for the at-large spot. The 49ers, meanwhile, lead LOS ANGELES by only one game as the Rams' defense prevailed in a 17-7 victory against Atlanta. ST. LOUIS tied KANSAS CITY 6-6, the fourth straight week in which the Cardinals did not allow a touchdown. In the NFC East, both St. Louis and New York seem strong playoff candidates—either as bridesmaid or bride. The situation is no less muddled in the AFC. George Blanda pulled another one out for OAKLAND, kicking a 16-yard field goal with seven seconds left as the Raiders downed San Diego 20-17. The victory gave the Western Division leaders a tenuous one-game advantage over Kansas City. With their 5-3-2 record, the Chiefs nevertheless remain a good choice for the fourth playoff berth. CLEVELAND, on the other hand, with only a 5-5 record in the Central Division, must maintain its one-game lead over CINCINNATI and Pittsburgh. The Browns defeated Houston 28-14 while the Bengals were blasting the Steelers 34-7. The Eastern Division race grew more confusing as Baltimore went south and failed to win for the second straight week. The Colts let part of their lead over MIAMI slip in the 34-17 loss, and the Dolphins heightened their playoff chances with a 6-4 record.
NATIONAL CONFERENCE—Eastern: St. Louis (7-2-1), New York (6-3-0), Dallas (6-4-0), Washington (4-6-0), Philadelphia (1-7-1). Central: Minnesota (9-1-0), Detroit (6-4-0), Green Bay (5-5-0), Chicago (4-6-0). Western: San Francisco (7-2-1), Los Angeles (6-3-1), Atlanta (3-5-2), New Orleans (2-7-1).
AMERICAN CONFERENCE—Eastern: Baltimore (7-2-1), Miami (6-4-0), Buffalo (3-6-1), New York (3-7-0), Boston (1-9-0). Central: Cleveland (5-5-0), Cincinnati and Pittsburgh (4-6-0), Houston (2-7-1). Western: Oakland (6-2-2), Kansas City (5-3-2), Denver (5-5-0), San Diego (4-4-2).
HARNESS RACING—LAVERNE HANOVER ($10.60) made Triple Crown winner Most Happy Fella's last race a disappointing one with an upset victory in the American Pacing Classic in Inglewood, Calif. The winner's time for the 1? miles was 2:14[4/5].
HOCKEY—In the NHL's oh-so-tight East division, Boston, New York and Montreal nosed in and out of the lead like Hot Wheels racers. The week's key contest was played between Montreal and New York before the largest crowd of the season (17,989) at the Montreal Forum. Both the Canadiens and the Rangers had won their last two, but New York emerged with a 5-4 victory, its second one-goal triumph of the year over Montreal. On the same night Boston was whipping Philadelphia 5-2, so at week's end the Bruins and New York held a one point lead on the Canadiens. Boston would have had the lead to itself but for a stunning 2-1 loss to lowly California earlier. The tightness of the West Division race was exemplified by the match between Chicago and St. Louis—the Black Hawks maintaining their one-point advantage by playing a 3-3 tie. St. Louis had earlier lost its first game at home, 5-3 to Minnesota.
MOUNTAINEERING—Scorning a rescue attempt although seriously hampered by bad weather, DEAN CALDWELL of Portland, Ore. and WARREN HARDING of West Sacramento, Calif. completed a 27-day conquest of El Capitan—a 3,600-foot perpendicular monolith in Yosemite National Park.
TENNIS—ROD LAVER and MRS. BILLIE JEAN KING won championships at the Embassy indoor tournament in Wembley, England. Laver triumphed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 over Cliff Richey, while Mrs. King was downing Mrs. Ann Jones 8-6, 3-6, 6-1.