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PRO BASKETBALL—ABA: The Bird is on the wing in San Antonio and there is no telling how high William (Bird) Averitt will go. He soared for 72 points in three games as the third-place Spurs won twice and remained half a game ahead of Denver in the West. Averitt, who led the NCAA in scoring last year when he was a junior at Pepperdine, hit for his pro high of 35 points (nine in the final quarter) in a 101-97 win over San Diego. Then, in a narrow (103-101) loss to Kentucky, he scored the last seven San Antonio points to keep the Colonels worried. Earlier in the week San Antonio held Utah to its lowest point total of the season in a 90-81 victory, but the Stars still paced the West and Indiana by five games. Utah squeezed by Memphis 89-87, swamped Indiana 123-105 and downed Carolina 115-102. Virginia then caught the Stars falling and beat them for the second time in a week, 129-105. Virginia's only All-Star, George Gervin, led the assault with 23 points. Kentucky held first in the East, four percentage points ahead of New York, by virtue of a two-point victory over San Antonio in which All-Stars Dan Issel, Artis Gilmore and Louie Dampier combined for 70 points. The Nets' five-game win streak ended with a dismal 131-105 home loss to third-place Carolina. Carolina then lost to Denver 120-110 and had insult added to defeat when Cougar Coach Larry Brown was fined a reported $1,300 for shoving a referee.
NBA: The NBA flexed its off-court muscle in a week shortened by the All-Star break, hitting Chicago Coach Dick Motta with a $2,000 fine and a one-week suspension for his behavior in an altercation with officials after a 103-101 Bull loss in Seattle Jan. 4. Motta is the first coach in league history to be suspended. Detroit spoiled the coaching debut of Chicago Trainer Bob Biel by routing the Bulls 113-95. Piston Bob Lanier, the MVP of the West's 134-123 All-Star triumph, scored 32 points as Detroit pulled to within one game of Chicago in the Midwest. But nobody is gaining on Milwaukee, which opened up a 6�-game lead in that division. Boston won two and increased its lead in the Atlantic to eight games over New York. In the Central, first-place Capital rode yet another return to action by Wes Unseld to two wins in three games. First-place Los Angeles celebrated in the Pacific as Jerry West, making his first appearance since Dec. 11, beat KC- Omaha 116-115 with a 15-foot jump shot at the buzzer.
GOLF—JOHNNY MILLER became the only man ever to win the season's first three PGA tournaments with a victory in the $150,000 Dean Martin- Tucson Open. Miller fired a final-round 68 for a 272 total, defeating rookie Ben Crenshaw by three strokes (page 22).
HOCKEY—NHL: Philadelphia added substance to its Stanley Cup visions by winning three straight behind the exemplary goaltending of Bernie Parent. The West's All-Star selection in goal, Parent registered his eighth shutout of the year in a 1-0 win over Atlanta, allowed two goals as Philadelphia routed Buffalo 7-2 and finished the week by blanking Los Angeles 2-0. Philadelphia led Chicago in the West by a comfortable seven points. St. Louis and Atlanta continued their herky-jerky fight for third place. The Blues lost three of four and the Flames dropped two of three, which means St. Louis still led Atlanta by a point. In the East the New York Rangers finally lost one under Emile Francis, 3-2 to St. Louis, but not before the inspirational Cat had roused the team into third place with two wins and a tie. Francis also seemed to get a rise from Ranger Steve Vickers (five goals in the four games). The New Yorkers now trail second-place Montreal by only four points. Boston opened a six-point lead on the pack by humiliating the Canadiens 8-0, and in Montreal at that. The Bruins besieged Canadien Goalie Michel Plasse with 40 shots, and Phil Esposito tallied his 41st goal in 41 games.
WHA: Houston's Gordie Howe became the only man in history to score 800 career goals, reaching that milestone in the Aeros' 7-4 win over Vancouver. Howe also twice assisted son Mark, who tallied his 20th and 21st goals of the year. A five-game Houston win streak came to an end when Los Angeles grounded the Aeros 3-2, but Howe's boys still led Edmonton and Winnipeg by four points in the West. Los Angeles climbed out of the West cellar with three wins as Winger Marc Tardif sparked the Sharks' ascent with eight goals and three assists in four games. New England opened up a six-point lead in the East, powered by some hot shooting from the line of Tom Williams, Al Karlander and John French. The feats of Chicago's Ralph Backstrom (five goals, two assists) and Pat Stapleton (one goal, four assists) began to recall their playoff days with the NHL Black Hawks as the WHA Cougars moved to within two points of fourth-place Quebec, thanks to 5-2 wins over New England and Quebec.
SKIING—ROLAND COLLOMBIN of Switzerland won his third straight World Cup downhill, the Lauberhorn classic in Wengen, Switzerland. Collombin clinched the season's World Cup downhill title with his victory over Austrian Franz Klammer. West German CHRISTIAN NEUREUTHER won the slalom event with Italian Fausto Radici in second. In women's competition at Les Diablerets, Switzerland, CHRISTA ZECHMEISTER of West Germany won her third straight World Cup slalom. Americans Barbara Cochran and Cindy Nelson finished fourth and fifth respectively (page 53).
PRO SKIING—In the McDonald Cup classic in Burnsville, Minn., Austrian HUGO NINDL won both the slalom and giant slalom to move into first place in the Benson & Hedges Grand Prix standings. Nindl defeated Spider Sabich in the slalom and fellow Austrian Harald Stuefer in the giant slalom.
TENNIS—BILLIE JEAN KING beat Chris Evert 7-6, 6-2 to win the first tournament of the 1974 women's professional tour, the $50,000 Virginia Slims event in San Francisco. King earned $10,000 for her victory. More than 2,000 fans were turned away after the ticket windows closed.