PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Cleveland and Washington began the week tied for the Central Division lead. The Bullets lost to Buffalo 115-105, blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. Cleveland won its fifth in a row, 114-111 over Buffalo, Jim Chones' 29 points assuring the Cavaliers of finishing the week in sole possession of first. Boston and Golden State control their divisions, with races developing for second place. Fred Carter and Doug Collins combined for 59 points as Philadelphia won its fourth straight, 134-109 over Houston, and moved into a tie for second with Buffalo in the Atlantic. In the Pacific, Seattle halted a three-game losing streak 93-90 against New Orleans, beat Atlanta 119-102 and Portland 122-108 when Bruce Seals netted a career-high 29 points, and moved to within two games of second-place Los Angeles. Following Portland's 109-105 loss to Golden State it was learned that Bill Walton had a fractured leg and will be sidelined for five weeks. The loss to Seattle was the Blazers' fourth in a row and dropped them back to the cellar. Milwaukee was the only Midwest team to win so much as a game. With two victories, 109-95 over New York and 95-89 against Chicago, the 23-32 Bucks took a firm hold on first place. In any other division they would be last.
ABA: Denver's formula for success is simple: put David Thompson, Dan Issel and Ralph Simpson on the court, grab an eight-game lead in a league that has only one division and keep winning. The system works even better if you personally take care of the runner-up, in this case, New York. The Nets bowed to the Nuggets 138-119, split a pair with St. Louis and then faced Denver again. This time the Nets squandered a 24-point first-half lead, allowed Simpson to score his 10,000th career point and lost 108-103 in overtime. The defeat put the Nets eight games behind the Nuggets and one game ahead of third-place San Antonio, which won its seventh of nine games, 128-107 over Indiana, as James Silas scored 25 points. In a 105-101 rematch the Spurs kicked the Pacers farther back into fifth place. Even with three wins, St. Louis could not gain on Denver, so the Spirits settled for picking up 2� games on fifth-place Indiana. They defeated the Pacers 127-126 when Marvin Barnes hit a 20-foot jumper with three seconds left in overtime to cap his own 28 points. Indiana's Len Elmore scored a career-high 35.
BOWLING—CURT SCHMIDT defeated top-seeded Dave Davis 246-163 to win the $70,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open Bowling Tournament in Towson, Md.
GOLF—Defending champion J. C. SNEAD shot a 16-under-par 272 to win the Andy Williams- San Diego Open by one stroke over Don Bies.
JoAnne Carner won the Orange Blossom Classic by defeating Sandra Palmer on the fourth hole of sudden death, after each shot a seven-under-par 209 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
PRO HOCKEY—NHL: Boston has lost only twice since Christmas so the return of 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup Goalie Gerry Cheevers from the WHA must seem like an example of the rich getting richer to Buffalo, which trails the Bruins in the Adams Division by six points. In his first NHL game since 1972 Cheevers stopped 22 shots and shut out Detroit 7-0. Philadelphia widened its Patrick lead over the Islanders to 13 points and Reggie Leach increased his league goal-scoring lead to 39 with two scores in the Flyers' fifth straight win, a 5-3 defeat of the Rangers. Vancouver broke its three-game losing streak by beating the Islanders 3-2 and followed that with a 6-4 defeat of Montreal and a 4-3 win over Toronto. The Canucks now trail Smythe leader Chicago, which lost 7-4 to Los Angeles, by eight points, Mickey Redmond, the Red Wings' two-time 50-goal scorer, found himself suspended by disgruntled Coach Alex Delvecchio after the Mayo Clinic predicted a slow and uncertain recovery from a back injury. Montreal dominates the Norris Division, with Pete Mahovlich and Guy Lafleur delivering the scoring punch; Lafleur got his 36th goal in a 6-1 defeat of St. Louis and Mahovlich scored Nos. 26 and 27 in the loss to Vancouver.
WHA: Minnesota began to climb out of the West cellar, a 6-3 defeat of San Diego pulling the Fighting Saints into a tie for third with the Mariners. Minnesota won a rematch, 4-2, to deadlock Phoenix for second. Houston, leading in the West by 10 points, halted Phoenix' nine-game home winning streak, a 4-1 defeat temporarily dropping the Roadrunners into third. After knocking off Minnesota 5-2 they moved back up. The league's six leading scorers skate for either Winnipeg or Quebec, the top two teams in the Canadian Division. When the two clubs met, Quebec's trio of Marc Tardif (No. 1), Serge Bernier (No. 5) and Buddy Cloutier (No. 6) scored all but one of the Nordiques' goals in a 6-4 victory, which enabled them to climb to within five points of the Jets. New England held firm to its lead in the East and Indianapolis stayed in last place.
MOTOR SPORTS—DAVID PEARSON nursed his Mercury "a quarter of a mile" to victory in the $343,300 Daytona 500 after crashing with Richard Petty just short of the flag (page 50).
WINTER OLYMPICS—BIATHLON: Relay—1) U.S.S.R. (Elizarov, Biakov, Kruglov, Tihonov), 2) Finland, 3) E. Germany.
BOBSLED: 4-man—1) EAST GERMANY I (Nehmer, Babock, Germeshausen, Lehmann) 2) Switzerland Q, 3) W. Germany I.