BASKETBALL—ABA: Success, American style, is having one of your games televised. The Nets picked up some of this electronic prestige against the Carolina Cougars in Greensboro, but all it meant was a chance for New Yorkers to watch the Cougars climb out of the East Division cellar with a 118-99 win. And see Joe Caldwell, Carolina's former NBA star, outscore Rick Barry 32-15. But the Virginia Squires, the East leader, have replaced the Cougars as this season's hot regional franchise. Playing before 7,144—their second largest home audience of the year—the Squires won their ninth consecutive game at Hampton Roads Coliseum 137-126, beating Pittsburgh, which dropped into the East basement vacated by the Cougars. Utah remained at the top of the West heap by keeping Texas at the bottom 134-109 as Zelmo Beaty, still another former NBA standout, tallied 27.
NBA: Willis Reed was having stomach pains—serious enough to require hospital tests—and the defending champion Knicks could have used a 6'9" doctor. "We missed Willis a lot," said Coach Red Holzman after seeing Atlanta out-rebound the New Yorkers 58-39 and take a 112-108 decision that ended a 12-game Knick home winning streak. Atlanta's Walt Bellamy scored 24 points and pulled down 12 rebounds. A bright spot for New York was Cazzie Russell's return since breaking his left wrist in November. Boston beat Philadelphia 125-120 to take second in the Atlantic Division behind the Knicks (page 22). Baltimore retained the Central lead and the support of Spiro Agnew, who gave Agnew watches to Bullets' President Abe Pollin and Gus Johnson. Milwaukee increased its lead in the Midwest to six games over Detroit. In the Pacific Division San Diego beat the Lakers on successive nights to make it a three-team race. The Rockets and San Francisco spurted to within one game of Los Angeles, whose Jerry West added to the broken-nose record by having it smashed again in San Diego.
FOOTBALL—In the light of what happened to Texas and Ohio State in two of the big bowl games, TOLEDO and ARIZONA STATE were probably fortunate not to be playing on New Year's Day. Just three days after unbeaten Toledo pulled away from William and Mary 40-12 in the Tangerine Bowl in Orlando, Fla. the Rockets' 23-game winning streak became—by dint of Texas' loss to Notre Dame (page 10)—the longest in the college ranks. Also unbeaten in 1970, Arizona State extended its string to 17 with a 48-26 win over North Carolina in the Peach Bowl in Atlanta, with All-America Don McCauley of the Tar Heels being overshadowed in yardage by Monroe Eley of the Sun Devils. Bear Bryant took full blame for Alabama's 24-24 tie with Oklahoma in the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl in Houston. "I tried to play it safe and it was the wrong thing to do," he said of the Tide's stall tactics before missing a last-second field goal. Bryant may have been unnecessarily humble in not claiming credit for the wacky 25-yard scoring pass from Halfback Johnny Musso to Quarterback Scott Hunter which put the Crimson Tide temporarily ahead 24-21. "Coach liked it and put it in," revealed Hunter afterward. Rookie Head Coach Bill Battle, a Bryant pupil, did better than his teacher by directing TENNESSEE to a 34-13 victory over Air Force in the Sugar Bowl. AUBURN held a 21-0 lead in the Gator Bowl in Jacksonville before Archie Manning, protective device on his left arm and all, began to answer Pat Sullivan's challenge. When it was over, the Tigers still had a 35—28 victory, but some of the fans were breathing a little harder. The SOUTH took a 38-7 win in the Blue-Gray game in Montgomery. The WEST opened with a two-man, 99-yard kickoff return, Missouri's Mel Gray covering the last 87 yards, then held on to outlast the East 17-13 in the Shrine Game.
HOCKEY—That's no typographical error. The Toronto Maple Leafs did score 13 times while Goalies Jacques Plante and Bruce Gamble were shutting out the Detroit Red Wings. Darryl Sittler, Bill MacMillan, Norm Ullman and Paul Henderson netted two goals apiece as Toronto recorded its seventh straight win on home ice. Bobby Hull celebrated his 32nd birthday a day early with his 21st goal of the season at the expense of the Philadelphia Flyers, scoring in the last eight seconds as Chicago won 3-1. The loss was the Flyers' 10th straight and kept the Hawks on top of the West. In the East, the New York Rangers spent 24 hours in first place by recording a 3-2 victory over California and taking a one-point lead over Boston, which was idle (page 40). The next night the Bruins received two goals from Phil Esposito and another from Bobby Orr, who had three assists, to regain first place by defeating Minnesota 6-2.
HORSE RACING—Favored PERSIAN WAR raced to an eight-length victory in the Irish Sweepstakes Hurdle, earning $26,356 for owner H. S. Alper of England and $120,000 for 15 winning ticket holders. Jimmy Uttley rode the winner.
MOTOR SPORTS—Indianapolis 500 winner and 1970 national champion AL UNSER was awarded the Jerry Titus Memorial trophy by the American Auto Racing Writers and Broadcasters Association. Unser won 10 championships and a record $494,149.
TENNIS—After trailing 1-3 in the first set, defending champion ROD LAVER recovered for a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 triumph over Ken Rosewall at Madison Square Garden in the first $10,000 winner-take-all match of the $210,000 Champions Classic.
TRACK & FIELD—FRANK SHORTER of Gainesville, Fla., won the 46th annual St. Sylvester New Year's Eve marathon through the rain-drenched streets of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Shorter covered the 8,700 meters in 24 minutes, 27.4 seconds.
MILEPOSTS—APPOINTED: As Executive Director of the Amateur Athletic Union, HARRY HAINSWORTH, succeeding Colonel Donald F. Hull, U.S.A. (ret.).
HIRED: As head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, UCLA's TOMMY PROTHRO, the 10th time the team has filled the spot since it moved from Cleveland in 1946; replacing George Allen, whose five-year contract expired.