BASKETBALL—NBA: Fast-breaking Boston, tops in the Atlantic Division, streaked to nine wins in a row with a 128-123 victory over Seattle as John Havlicek popped in 42 points, a 139-112 rout of Buffalo and a 121-108 defeat of Los Angeles in which four Celtics scored more than 20 points, led by reserve Don Nelson's 24. It was the first victory by Boston over the Lakers, runaway leaders in the Pacific Division, in four meetings this season and broke an eight-game LA winning streak. The Lakers had taken three in a row earlier in the week, including a 151-127 walloping of Baltimore that saw LA score 87 points in the second half. Milwaukee, snugly in first place in the Midwest by 4� over Chicago, lost only to the Knicks, 113-107, in four games, while hapless Baltimore, the Central leader with a 24-33 record, lost four in a row to extend its losing streak to seven. Happily for the Bullets, the other three teams in the division—Atlanta, Cincinnati and Cleveland—all kept pace with four losses apiece.
ABA: The biggest move in the league was made by New York, which unofficially opened its new $28 million coliseum with a game against Pittsburgh. "It feels like getting into a bathroom with fine plumbing after being in an outhouse." said veteran Guard Bill Melchionni after the Nets, led by Rick Barry's 45 points, defeated the Condors 129-121. The biggest mystery was the whereabouts of high-scoring Carolina rookie Jim McDaniels, who did not show up for a game with Denver and was immediately suspended. Rumor had it he was unhappy with his $3 million contract. On the court, Kentucky upped its East lead to 10� games with two wins, including a 118-106 rout of the Nets as Louie Dampier hit his first 13 shots, one short of the ABA record, and Utah pushed its West lead to 5� games with three in a row.
BOXING—Two-time world heavyweight champion FLOYD PATTERSON tripped, sprawled and stumbled before rallying to a unanimous 10-round decision over inept Oscar Bonavena at New York's Madison Square Garden. "I am not happy about the way I won it." said the 37-year-old Patterson, who is in his 20th year as a pro, "but winning was excuse enough to justify my continuing fighting."
GOLF—BOB ROSBURG look the 90-hole $145,000 Bob Hope Desert Classic in Palm Springs, Calif. with a 344, one stroke over Lanny Wadkins.
HOCKEY—MONTREAL, with rookies Guy Lafleur and Ken Dryden leading the way, won three in a row and moved within five points of second-place New York in the East. The Canadiens took Vancouver 4-2, bombed Chicago 7-1 as Dryden turned back 39 shots and Lafleur scored his third hat trick of the season, and edged Los Angeles 6-5 on Lafleur's goal with 22 seconds to play. NEW YORK let Toronto off the hook by giving up two third-period goals after leading 2-0, whacked Chicago 4-1 for the first Ranger victory over an established team since Dec. 26, and walloped Pittsburgh 8-3 on Walt Tkaczuk's five assists and Brad Park's three goals. Bumbling Buffalo embarrassed Boston by running up a 6-0 lead in two periods en route to an 8-2 win that broke the Bruins' 13-game unbeaten streak. But Boston came back to defeat Vancouver 9-1 as Bobby Orr got three assists and a goal, and beat the Sabres 5-1 in a return match to extend its unbeaten home string to 21 games and its East lead to nine points. West leader Chicago beat runner-up Minnesota 5-0 on Tony Esposito's seventh shutout of the season, then dropped two and tied one while the North Stars won three straight to climb within nine points of first.
HORSE RACING—Bill Shoemaker gained his 551st stakes victory, three short of Eddie Arcaro's career record, when he rode UNCONSCIOUS ($10.40) to a neck win over Triple Bend in the $130,300 Charles H. Strub Stakes at Santa Anita.
TENNIS—ROD LAVER defeated Ken Rosewall 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 in the finals of the U.S. Professional Indoor tournament in Philadelphia (page 65).
TRACK & FIELD—STEVE PREFONTAINE look the two-mile run in 8:26.6 at the Los Angeles Times Indoor Games (page 52).
Two world records were set at the USTFF indoor championships in Houston as ROD MILBURN clipped one-tenth of a second off the 120-yard-hurdles mark with a 13.4, edging Willie Davenport, the former record holder, by a step, and CLIFF BRANCH equaled the 100-yard-dash mark of 9.3 seconds. Running on the five-lap Astrodome track, the ILLINOIS two-mile relay team was clocked in 7:19.8, GEORGE YOUNG won the two-mile run in 8:28.1 and EDESEL GARRISON zipped to a 45.7 in the 440.
Another world indoor record fell when MARK WINZENRIED was clocked in 2:05.1 in the 1,000, breaking Ralph Doubell's 1970 mark by four-tenths of a second, at the Mason-Dixon Games on Louisville's eight-lap track. In other events, MEL PENDER edged Dr. Delano Meriwether in the 70-yard dash as both were timed in 6.9 and SCOTT WAL-LICK reached 17'?" in the pole vault.