PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: All through the week Washington stayed close to first-place Cleveland in the Central. Houston beat the Cavaliers 117-114, halting Cleveland's eight-game winning streak. Then the Bullets, paced by Phil Chenier's 32 points, defeated Chicago 92-83 and were just half a game out of first. The Bullets next split a series with New Orleans. In the first game, a 105-104 Jazz win, Pete Maravich tallied 39 points to hit the 10,000-point mark in his sixth NBA season. In the Bullets' 118-108 victory Chenier led a balanced attack (five players in double figures) with 26 points. Seven Cavaliers scored in double figures (Campy Russell led with 17) when Cleveland edged Detroit 108-101. After Sunday's contests in which Cleveland lost to Los Angeles 108-97 and Washington edged Houston 110-108, the Bullets led by half a game. In the Midwest the Pistons' fourth win in five starts, 97-93 against New York, lifted them to within half a game of Milwaukee, but the Bucks assured themselves of finishing the week in first by downing New Orleans 112-99. Golden State's 13-game Pacific lead appears insurmountable. Second place Seattle's eighth straight win wrecked Buffalo 126-94, the Braves' worst defeat of the season. Bob McAdoo (page 26) had 33 points. Atlantic leader Boston returned home after losing four of six on the road and avenged a West Coast defeat by the Warriors, 119-101.
ABA: Denver's rookie sensation, David Thompson, appears to have successfully completed his league internship. He scored a pro-career high of 50 points (11 more than his previous best) in just 42 minutes of play during a 140-116 romp over third-place San Antonio. Thompson missed only three of 20 field-goal attempts and hit 16 of 19 free throws as the first-place Nuggets maintained their six-game lead over second-place New York. The Spurs had won 12 of their last 16 games before becoming the Nuggets' 20th consecutive home-court victims. The Nets' longest winning streak of the season (five games) was halted by the Spurs 116-106, ex-Net Billy Paultz grabbing 22 rebounds, and James Silas and George Gervin each tossing in 24 points. The win kept the Spurs two games in back of New York. In a Nugget-Spur rematch, San Antonio had the home-crowd advantage and won 134-122. Thompson scored 31 points, but Silas tallied 35 and Gervin 33. New York split a pair with fourth-place Kentucky, Dr. J scoring 38 in a 113-101 Net win, Artis Gilmore collecting 26 rebounds and 23 points as the Colonels took the second game 126-100.
BOATING—WILLIWAW, Seymore Sinett's 41-foot sloop, was the unofficial winner of the Southern Ocean Racing Conference (page 14).
BOWLING—EARL ANTHONY won his 21st career title, beating Johnny Petraglia 236-214 in the $100,000 Midas Open in Windsor Locks, Conn.
GOLF—JACK NICKLAUS shot a 19-under-par 269 to win the rain-delayed $300,000 Tournament Players Championship by three strokes over J. C. Snead in Lauderhill, Fla.
GYMNASTICS—14-year-old European champion NADIA COMANECI took the all-around title as RUMANIA defeated the U.S. 383.70-381.50 in Tucson in an Olympic qualifying meet for the American women's team. The U.S. men's team beat Rumania 568.75-564.60 in Berkeley, Calif.
HOCKEY—NHL: Montreal, Buffalo and Toronto unleashed their highest-scoring lines to riddle opposing defenses and improve individual statistics. Norris leader Montreal began the week by beating St. Louis 6-2, Guy Lafleur raising his league-leading point total to 90 with a goal and two assists, and linemates Pete Mahovlich scoring goal No. 30 and assisting twice, and Steve Shutt tallying Nos. 33 and 34 along with an assist. In Buffalo, whose Sabres trail Boston by 10 points in the Adams, the "French Connection II" line was on display, Rene Robert, Gil Perreault and Richard Martin being reunited for the first time since Dec. 7. They accounted for three goals and five assists in a 5-2 defeat of Toronto, Perreault, the league's No. 7 scorer, getting goal No. 33 and his 45th assist. Before Toronto met Buffalo, the Leafs' line of Lanny McDonald, Darryl Sittler and Erroll Thompson had become the second NHL threesome (the other is Montreal's premier line) whose members have scored 30 goals this season. In a 7-1 win over Atlanta, Sittler scored three times (Nos. 30, 31 and 32) and Thompson's two tallies gave him 33 goals. McDonald scored his 30th when Toronto beat Detroit 8-0. Philadelphia extended its unbeaten streak to 16 games in a 6-1 defeat of California, leaving the Flyers 15-points ahead of the Islanders in the Patrick. Chicago's advantage in the Smythe Division jumped to 8 points over Vancouver, the Canucks losing three times, including a 4-1 defeat by the Black Hawks.
WHA: When the Minnesota Fighting Saints failed to make the road trip to Cincinnati on Saturday night, the explanations were as varied as the efforts to save the franchise. League officials, not anxious to duplicate their previous casualty (Denver/ Ottawa), termed it a "temporary suspension of operations" in hopes of finding new owners. The management labeled it "a folding" and veteran Saint Wayne Connelly took the occasion to call it "quits." The situation followed the breakdown of schemes to sell the team and the rejection by the players of a plan to pay them on a per-game basis; the Saints, it turned out, have missed three of their last five paydays. But the Fighting Saints went marching out with a winning record: 30-25-4. The West Division now shrinks to three teams. Houston, which replaced Minnesota in Cincinnati and won 4-2, maintains a substantial lead over Phoenix and San Diego. All three West teams have winning records, while none of the Eastern teams do. Cincinnati's seventh straight win, 5-2 over New England, put the Stingers two points ahead of the Whalers in the East. Toronto's 16th straight winless effort, a 9-6 defeat by the Stingers, set a league record. Standings in the Canadian Division remained unchanged. Winnipeg remained on top and Nordique Marc Tardif scored goals Nos. 55 and 56 in a 4-1 victory over Houston to lead the league with 112 points.
HORSE RACING—HONEST PLEASURE ($2.60), ridden by Braulio Baeza, won the Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah in a stakes-record 1:46[4/5] for the 1? miles, beating Inca Roca by 11 lengths (page 18). Another 3-year-old, BOLD FORBES ($6.20), Laffit Pincay Jr. up, scored a three-length victory over Grandaries in Santa Anita's $44,850 San Jacinto Stakes, covering the mile in 1:35.
SKIING—Olympic medalist CINDY NELSON and CARY ADGATE won the slalom races at the U.S. National Alpine championships at Copper Mountain, Colo. GREG JONES and SUSIE PATTERSON took first in the downhill, while GEOFF BRUCE and LINDY COCHRAN won the giant slalom.