PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: A 92-88 defeat of Cleveland boosted Washington's Central division lead to 1� games over the Cavaliers, and by week's end that margin was 2� as the streaking Bullets won their ninth game in their last 11 starts, 105-103 against Philadelphia. Third-place Atlanta moved to within half a game of Cleveland, winning 98-91, Lou Hudson hitting for 20 points and a tough Hawk defense keeping the Cavs from scoring any field goals in the last six minutes of play. Houston lost its third game of the week, 103-97 to New Orleans, an encounter that moved the Jazz out of and the Rockets into the cellar. Boston remained atop the Atlantic by downing Philadelphia 118-110. with Dave Cowens tallying a pro career high of 39 and grabbing 18 rebounds. New York edged closer to .500 by beating Kansas City 102-90, the 11th Knick victory in their last 14 games. League high scorer Bob McAdoo got 45 points, hitting on nine of 10 from the floor in the third quarter of a 126-119 Buffalo win over Phoenix. The Braves remained four games behind Boston by beating Chicago 110-104 and Seattle 110-101. Los Angeles broke a four-game losing streak with a 104-102 defeat of Chicago, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scoring the winning basket at the buzzer with a 25-foot jump shot. That win—and Seattle's 100-85 loss to Washington—moved the Lakers back into second place in the Pacific, still nine games behind Golden State. Atlanta defeated the Warriors 97-91 to end a five-game winning streak that had included a 127-101 victory over Buffalo and a 128-103 drubbing of Houston. Portland's Bill Walton hit a pro career high of 36 points in a 116-109 defeat of Atlanta, scored 32 in a 106-94 loss to Boston and 18 in a 102-94 defeat of Kansas City. No Midwest team has a winning record, and Milwaukee, best in the division with 18-23, would trail the last-place teams in the Atlantic and Central divisions. Every Midwest team played and lost Friday night; Chicago 110-104 to Buffalo; Detroit 111-104 to Portland; Kansas City 102-90 to New York: and the division-leading Bucks 94-92 to New Orleans.
ABA: Denver staged a third-quarter rally to defeat the Nets 137-113, thereby winning the right to play an All-Star team on the Nuggets' home court. In the next Denver game rookie David Thompson scored a pro career high 39 points to help Denver survive a strong Indiana surge and win 124-118. Kentucky defeated third-place San Antonio 121-115, then, with former Spirit Maurice Lucas scoring 28 points and collecting 12 rebounds, sank St. Louis 123-115. The Colonels split home-and-home contests with Denver, the Nuggets winning at Denver 137-113 and the Colonels winning at Louisville 119-117. advancing the Colonels into fourth place, nine games behind the Nuggets. The second-place Nets trounced the Squires 130-99 after the league upheld their protest of a 112-89 defeat at Virginia. The final 19 minutes and five seconds of that game will be replayed on Jan. 24. The disputed win had been the Squires' first since Dec. 18 and, with a subsequent 126-115 loss to Indiana, Virginia is still in search of its sixth victory this season.
BOBSLED & LUGE—JAMES P. MORGAN, 27, of Saranac Lake, heads a 12-man U.S. Olympic team as the No. 1 driver on the two-and four-man sleds. JIM MURRAY, TERRY O'BRIEN and KATY HOMSTAD go to the Olympics for the second time as members of the U.S. luge singles team.
FIGURE SKATING—Britain's JOHN CURRY won the men's title at the European championships in Geneva, dethroning Russia's Vladimir Kovalov, who placed second. DIANNE DeLEEUW of Paramount. Calif., skating for The Netherlands, took the women's sold medal. IRINA RODNINA and ALEXANDR ZAITSEV of the U.S.S.R. skated to their fourth consecutive pairs title, and LUDMILA PAKHOMOVA and ALEXANDR GORSHKOV led a Soviet sweep of ice dancing.
PRO FOOTBALL—The PITTSBURGH STEELERS successfully defended their Super Bowl title, defeating the Dallas Cowboys 21-17 in Miami (page 14).
GOLF—BOB GILDER won the $200,000 Phoenix Open by shooting a 16-under-par 268 to top runner-up Roger Maltbie by two strokes.
PRO HOCKEY—NHL: With the selection of the Wales and Campbell conference All-Star teams signaling the season's midway point, Buffalo is still pestering Boston for the Adams Division lead. The Bruins lost 7-5 to St. Louis after downing Pittsburgh 6-2 in a game in which Johnny Bucyk scored his 20th goal, the ninth straight year he has accomplished that feat. Boston then beat Los Angeles 4-0 as Goalie Gilles Gilbert stopped 25 shots for his third shutout. Buffalo fell four points behind the Bruins after suffering a 7-3 loss to St. Louis, then tackled Pittsburgh. Six losses and a tie had spurred a Penguin coaching change. Ken Schinkel resuming the post, and his club, fighting to stay ahead of Detroit for a playoff berth, nipped the Sabres 3-2 to remain four points in front of the Red Wings. Montreal's lead in the Norris Division swelled to 22 points after a 4-2 defeat of the second-place Kings. Washington set an NHL record by posting its 22nd straight game without a win, a 3-2 loss to the Canadiens, topping the winless mark held by the 1944 Rangers and 1950 Black Hawks, then lost No. 23 to Buffalo 5-3 and No. 24 to Minnesota 7-3. Chicago extended its Smythe Division lead to nine points with a 2-1 win over second-place Vancouver, after settling for its 15th tie (2-2 with the Seals) when Goalie Tony Esposito stopped a Denis Maruk penalty shot. Philadelphia increased its Patrick Division lead with its seventh straight win, 7-1 over Kansas City, as Reggie Leach scored his 31st goal, a league high, and Bobby Clarke boosted his individual scoring lead to 71 points (22 goals, 49 assists).
WHA: Houston downed Ottawa 5-4 in overtime, the only Aeros victory of the week and the last game for the Civics in their two-week history. While the game was going on, negotiations were under way for the sale of seven Civic players lo three other WHA teams and by Saturday, when the league trustees met, it hardly seemed necessary to announce that Ottawa had "formally ceased operations." New-England claimed Forward Ralph Backstrom, Indianapolis picked up the rights to four men and Cleveland grabbed Center Gary MacGregor. The remaining players were declared free agents. Earlier in the week, the Canadian Division All-Stars defeated a combined U.S. East-West squad 6-1 at Cleveland. Quebec's second-year forward. Real Cloutier, 19, became the youngest player ever to score in an All-Star game when he broke a 0-0 tie in the second period; he went on to tie a game record by tallying three goals. Winnipeg stayed on lop in the Canadian Division despite two victories by second-place Quebec, notably a 5-3 win over Calgary in which Marc Tardif. the league's scoring leader, tallied his 37th and 38th goals, both on power plays. New England increased its Eastern Division lead over Cincinnati to six points as Whaler Tom Webster extended his scoring streak to 20 games with a goal and three assists in a 5-2 victory. Houston maintained an 11-point edge on third-place Minnesota in the Western Division.
SKIING—INGEMAR STENMARK of Sweden recaptured the top spot in World Cup standings by placing second to Italy's FRANCO BIELER in the giant slalom at Morzine, France. West Germany's ROSI MITTERMAIER leads the women's standings despite wins in the slalom and giant slalom by LISE-MARIE MOREROD.
Army Captain LYLE NELSON of McCall, Idaho was selected to head the six-man U.S. Biathlon team at Innsbruck after finishing first in the Trials at Lake Placid, N.Y. and Underhill, Vt.