PRO BASKETBALL—Going into the final days, second and third places in the Atlantic Division were up for grabs between Philadelphia and Buffalo. In a head-to-head meeting, the 76ers came from behind in the fourth quarter for a 107-103 victory. New York lost to Phoenix 113-97 and was out of the playoffs for the first time since 1966. Buffalo's 101-93 win over Atlanta—42 points from Bob McAdoo—plus Houston's 119-115 defeat by Boston, virtually assured the Braves (and the 76ers) of playoff berths and ended any hopes the Rockets had of obtaining the Eastern Conference wild-card spot. In the Central, Cleveland slid into a tie for first with Washington, then out again when the Cavaliers were beaten by Boston 95-88 in a game in which Charlie Scott scored 30 points. In any case, the Cavs have made the playoffs for the first time in the club's five-year history. In the Midwest, Milwaukee clinched a playoff spot by beating Kansas City 120-107, and so have the second-place Pistons, the Kings having been eliminated. Fourth-place Chicago ended its eight-game losing streak and Detroit's seven-game winning stretch by downing the Pistons 97-93 in overtime. In the Pacific, Los Angeles, Phoenix and Seattle were locked in combat for two playoff positions (page 26). Whatever happens, the Lakers have the league's MVP, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar winning the vote of the players for the fourth time.
ABA: The first-place Denver Nuggets were 2-2, losing twice to San Antonio, assuring the Spurs of third place in the standings. The New York Nets, who have clinched second, proved again that when Dr. J isn't up, neither are they, losing to Indiana 116-106 in a game in which Erving got but 23 points. They then topped Kentucky 111-87 and Virginia 136-103. The fourth-place Colonels were 3-1, and Indiana, in fifth, was humbled not only by San Antonio and Denver but also by last-place Virginia, 113-112. When the playoffs start on April 8, with only St. Louis and Virginia eliminated, defending champion Kentucky will play a best-of-three series with Indiana. The winner will meet Denver in a best-of-seven semifinal, with New York and San Antonio going at it in the other semifinal.
DIVING—TIM MOORE swept the one- and three-meter springboard and the 10-meter platform events at the AAU indoor national championships at Cleveland State, the first time a diver has won all three men's events since 1965. Moore, 22, of Cincinnati, was the only male diver to be given two perfect 10s. Two judges gave him the score on his ninth dive in the three-meter. In women's competition, CYNTHIA MacINGVALE, 26, of Houston, took the one-meter springboard; JENNIFER CHANDLER, 16, of Lincoln, Ala., triumphed in the three-meter; and 19-year-old MELISSA BRILEY, of Houston, won the 10-meter platform.
GOLF—AL GEIBERGER turned back Lee Trevino's charge and won the Greater Greensboro ( N.C.) Open by two strokes with a final-round 68 for a 16-under-par 268.
The Colgate-Dinah Shore Winners Circle championship was won by JUDY RANKIN, who shot a three-under-par 285 to beat Betty Burfeindt by three strokes, in Palm Springs, Calif. (page 30).
HOCKEY—NHL: At the end of a long season (page 80), Philadelphia, Chicago, Montreal and Boston were the winners in the Patrick, Smythe, Norris and Adams Divisions, respectively. The Philadelphia line of Bobby Clarke, Reggie Leach and Bill Barber scored 141 goals, breaking the 1971 record of 140 goals in a season set by Boston's Esposito-Hodge-Cashman line. The Ross Trophy for most points was won by Guy Lafleur of Montreal with 56 goals and 69 assists for a total of 125. The Vezina Trophy for fewest goals allowed was won by Ken Dryden of Montreal who, with Bunny Larocque, permitted only 174 scores, and Steve Durbano of Pittsburgh was the most penalized player in the league, even though his 370 penalty minutes were 102 fewer than Philadelphia's Dave Schultz had last season.
WHA: Ten of the 12 teams still in the league are participating in the playoffs. In the East, leader Indianapolis will be joined by Cleveland and New England, leaving only Cincinnati out in the cold. Toronto will be the sole Canadian Division member idle, while Winnipeg, Quebec, Calgary and Edmonton battle it out. In the West, defending champ Houston will be joined by Phoenix and San Diego, which consists solely of free agents and is particularly glad to be in the playoffs, because "we need the money."
HORSE RACING—HONEST PLEASURE ($2.10) easily won the $152,400, 1?-mile Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, under Braulio Baeza in 1:4[4/5], three lengths in front of Great Contractor (page 22).
Undefeated ZEN ($3.20), another Kentucky Derby hopeful, with Jacinto Vasquez up, edged Cojak by a head to win the one-mile, $57,900 Gotham at Aqueduct in 1:35[3/5].
SWIMMING—At the AAU indoor championships in Long Beach, Calif., ZOLTAN VERRASZTO, of Hungary, clipped nearly three seconds off the 400-meter individual medley world record with a 4:26.00 clocking (page 24).