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PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Seattle, making the playoffs for the first time, and the Houston Rockets, whose only previous postseason experience came in 1969, when they were in San Diego, showed their worth by winning preliminary best-of-three series against Detroit and New York. The SuperSonics, who won their last seven regular-season games, defeated the Pistons in three games, winning the first 90-77, losing the next 122-106 and copping the third 100-93. In the final game Seattle rookie Center Tom Burleson scored 17 first-half points and Don (Slick) Watts came off the bench to score 15 and hold off a Piston charge led by Bob Lanier's 23 second-half points. The Rockets also required three games to eliminate the Knicks, winning the first 99-84, losing the next 106-96, then clinching with a 118-86 victory before 10,218 at Hofheinz Pavilion. In the crushing finale Rocket Forward Rudy Tomjanovich hit on 12 of 15 field-goal attempts and Guard Calvin Murphy popped in 20 points. In the four-out-of-seven conference semifinals Buffalo and Washington were knotted at 1-1, as were Chicago and Kansas City- Omaha.
ABA: Kentucky was the first team to win a conference semifinal playoff spot, beating Memphis four games to one. Including 10 games at the end of the regular season, the Colonels had won 13 straight before bowing to the Sounds 107-93 in the fourth game of their series. Kentucky picked itself up in the last game 111-99 as Artis Gilmore and Louie Dampier combined for 52 points. St. Louis led the struggling ABA defending champion New York Nets 3-1. Rookie of the Year Marvin Barnes continued to make believers as he scored 37, 35 and 23 points in the three St. Louis victories. In the Western Conference Denver had a tougher time than anticipated against Utah but led the series 3-2. Utah rookie Moses Malone scored 30 points and hauled down 32 rebounds in the third game, won by Utah 122-108. Indiana took San Antonio by surprise, winning the first three games before dropping the fourth 110-109. The Spurs could not contain Pacer George McGinnis who scored 32, 33, 42 and 51 points.
BOXING—VICTOR GALINDEZ of Argentina, bleeding heavily from a cut over his right eye, rallied in the last three rounds to retain his WBA light heavyweight title with a 15-round decision over South African Pierre Fourie, in Johannesburg.
PRO HOCKEY—NHL: The first round of the playoffs provided plenty of surprises as Los Angeles, Boston and the New York Rangers, all holding the home-ice advantage for the two-out-of-three series were eliminated along with St. Louis. Toronto, which was 0-4-1 against the Kings in the regular season, beat Los Angeles two games to one, losing one sudden-death overtime and winning another. In the series clincher the Maple Leafs' George Ferguson and Inge Hammarstrom each scored once as rookie Goaltender Gord McRae held off the Kings until Don Kozak tallied with 6:51 to go to take the series 2-3, 3-2, 2-1. Chicago defeated the Bruins for the first time in five playoff meetings since 1927. After being walloped by Boston 8-2 in the first contest, the Black Hawks came back with 4-3 and 6-4 victories. Chicago's Cliff Koroll and J.P. Bordeleau both scored twice in the final game. The Bruins' Phil Esposito scored four goals in the series in a losing cause. Pittsburgh made short work of St. Louis with a 4-3, 5-3 sweep. Penguin Colin Campbell beat Goalie Eddie Johnston with a shorthanded go-ahead goal with 15:27 remaining to ice the Penguins' second win. The New York Islanders, a 3-year-old expansion club, defeated the Rangers in three hard-fought, infraction-rife (a record 50 penalties were meted out in the second game) contests 3-2, 3-8, 4-3. In the final game Islander J.P. Parise scored on a cross-ice pass from Jude Drouin with only 11 seconds gone in sudden death to end the Rangers' season.
WHA: In the midst of best-of-seven play Houston held a 2-1 lead over Cleveland, Quebec was 3-0 against Phoenix, Minnesota was 2-1 over New England and San Diego led Toronto two games to none. The defending-champion Aeros scored three goals in the final period of the 5-3 second game with the Crusaders as Murray Hall, Larry Lund and Mark Howe each scored once to blunt a two-goal Cleveland rally. Nordique Goalie Richard Brodeur stopped 32 Roadrunner shots in his team's 3-0 win while teammate Rejean Houle notched his fourth goal in three games.
HORSERACING—BUFFALO LARK ($5.80), ridden by Larry Snyder, won the $140,200 Pan American Handicap at Gulfstream Park by 2� lengths over London Company, covering the sloppy 1� miles in 2:27[3/5].
SWIMMING—JOHN NABER of USC and SHIRLEY BABASHOFF of Mission Viejo, Calif., each won three events as 15 American records were set at the AAU short-course championships in Cincinnati's Keating Natatorium. Naber, a surprise entrant in the 1,650-yard freestyle, won the event in a record 15:09.510, a whopping 5.820 seconds better than the mark set last year by Mike Bruner. His other victories came in the 100-and 200-yard backstrokes. Babashoff won the women's 100-, 200-and 500-yard freestyles. Records were also set by 16-year-old JENNIE FRANKS of Wilmington, Del. in the women's 200-(2:04.747) and 400-yard IM (4:24.516), Hungary's ANDRAS HARGITAY in the men's 400-yard (3:54.916), Tennessee's LEE ENG-STRAND in the 200-yard IM (1:50.317), JO HARSHBARGER of Bellevue, Wash, in the women's 1,650-yard freestyle (16:27.114), VALERIE LEE of Mission Viejo in the 200-yard butterfly (2:00.702), Millikin University's MARCIA MOREY in the 200-yard breaststroke (2:18.775), DEENNA DEARDURFF of Cincinnati in the 100-yard butterfly (55.708), KIM DUNSON of Dallas in the women's 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.254) and 13-year-old NANCY GARAPICK of Nova Scotia in the 200-yard backstroke (2:02.843). USC won the men's 800-yard freestyle relay in a record 6:35.613 and MISSION VIEJO established a new women's mark in the 800-yard freestyle relay (7:28.779).
TENNIS—The fourth-seeded team of Britain's VIRGINIA WADE and Australia's MARGARET COURT won $35,000 by defeating top-seeded Billie Jean King and Rosemary Casals of the U.S. 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 in the $100,000 Women's Doubles Championship in Tokyo.
TRACK & FIELD—STEVE SMITH broke his own world professional indoor pole-vault mark by clearing 18'4" at an ITA meet in Portland, Ore. Smith's previous record of 18'2�" was established in Montreal earlier this year.