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BASKETBALL—NBA: With four weeks left in the season Boston pushed its Atlantic Division lead over New York to four games as the Celtics rebounded from a four-game losing streak to win three in a row while the inconsistent Knicks dropped two of three. In a 111-109 loss to lowly Cleveland, New York blew a 21-point lead and had its six-game winning string snapped. "When we were down 32-11 somebody yelled, 'Put your wife in,' " said Cav Coach Bill Fitch. His team got mad and beat the Knicks for the first time in two seasons. New York then needed a 45-point fourth period to defeat Portland, the worst team in the league, 122-105 as Phil Jackson, filling in for the injured Bill Bradley, scored 17 points and pulled down nine rebounds. Jackson attributed his newfound scoring touch to shaving off his droopy mustache. "I can sec better without it," he said. In the only other division with a race going on, Central leader Baltimore inched its lead over Atlanta up to four games by splitting four while the Hawks lost two of three. Sandwiched between wins over Philadelphia and New York were last-minute losses to Buffalo and Milwaukee in which the Bullets scored only 18 points in each of the final periods. Third-place Cincinnati threatened to enter the race when it ran its winning streak to four with three victories but then dropped two straight to settle eight games behind the Bullets. Included in the victory string was a 110-106 win over Portland in which Nate Archibald, one of the smallest players in the league (estimates of his height range from 5'10" to 6'1"), tossed in 55 points. Third-place Phoenix made a slight stir in the Midwest Division when it won its ninth game in a row, beating Detroit 121-107, but the Suns lost all hope of catching second-place Chicago by losing their next four games. Milwaukee remained safely in first place with three wins, including a 103-100 victory over the Bulls, as Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 44 points twice. In the Pacific Division struggle for second place, which is some light-years behind Los Angeles, Seattle edged a half game ahead of Golden State.
ABA: West leader Utah made it nine in a row, beating Pittsburgh 149-140 as Zelmo Beaty set an ABA single-game record with 63 points (in his next two games he totaled only 24), Kentucky 133-116 on Willie Wise's 50 points, and Indiana 117-107. The Stars' lead ballooned to nine games over runner-up Indiana, which split four. In the East, Kentucky zipped to its 12th straight victory with a 134-113 win over Carolina as Walt Simon, substituting for the injured Cincy Powell, scored 35 points (28 in the second half) and Dan Issel and rookie Artis Gilmore tossed in 31 apiece. Then the Colonels were defeated by the Stars in a possible preview of the playoff finals and by Dallas 100-92 before snapping out of their mild slump with a 123-100 win over Memphis. Still, Kentucky's lead over second-place Virginia was a whopping 12� games. At the bottom of the West Division, the Pros' Johnny Neumann, last season's college scoring leader, finally gave Memphis some hope for the future as he pumped in 38, 24, 35 and 40 points in four games. Unhappily, the Pros dropped three of them.
HOCKEY—Chicago, marking time in the West until the Stanley Cup playoffs, dropped three in a row, including back-to-back losses to Buffalo, before beating California 3-0 as Tony Esposito gained his eighth shutout and Bobby Hull scored his first goal in two weeks (page 22). Phil Esposito scored six goals, giving him 55 for the season and his second straight year over 50, while leading Boston to four victories and extending the Bruins' latest win streak to seven. In a 3-1 win over the Hawks, Esposito knocked in two goals and assisted on the third, and in an 8-6 victory over California the Bruins scored five goals in the third period after being behind 6-1 midway in the second. (In that one Bobby Orr had four assists, Espo two goals within three minutes and Fred Stanfield a hat trick.) By week's end Esposito led the league with 110 points, two more than New York's Jean Ratelle, who became the first Ranger in history to go over 100 points when he registered two goals and an assist in a 4-3 win over Detroit. The Rangers won their other two games, but slipped to 11 points behind the Bruins. Third-place Montreal, eight points farther back, won three of four, including a 4-0 victory over Buffalo in which rookie Ken Dryden gained his sixth shutout. In the Canadiens' lone loss, 7-3 to New York, the Rangers scored six goals in the third period after Montreal had taken a 3-0 lead in the first period.
HORSE RACING—UNCONSCIOUS ($9.00), Angel Cordero Jr. up, won the $86,050 San Antonio Stakes at Santa Anita by a nose over Triple Bend, while favored Cougar II, ridden by Bill Shoemaker, finished five lengths farther back in third. Earlier in the week Shoemaker tied Eddie Arcaro's career stakes record at 554 when he rode the winners of both divisions of the San Luis Obispo Handicap.
Unanime ($55.60), a 5-year old Argentine-bred ridden by Heliodoro Gustines, took the 1�-mile $140,600 Pan American Handicap on grass at Gulfstream Park by 1� lengths over Double Entry.
Favorecidian ($9.40) won the first division of the $170,500 John B. Campbell Handicap at Bowie, Maryland's richest handicap, by 1� lengths over Pro Bidder, while BOONE THE GREAT ($81.80) surprised the field in the second division with a three-quarter-length victory over Never Wink.
TRACK & FIELD—Sweden's KJELL ISAKSSON broke his world indoor pole vault record by 1� inches when he leaped 17'10�" at the AAU Indoor championships in New York's Madison Square Garden and DR. DELANO MERIWETHER nipped Gerald Tinker in the 60-yard dash (page 20).