PRO BASKETBALL—As if to make sure their fans would not become unduly distracted by the Broncos, the Nuggets, the NBA's best-drawing team, have put together their longest victory streak—nine games—since joining the NBA last year. Led by David Thompson, the league's third-leading scorer with an average of 25.7 points. Dan Issel, who scored 30 points against Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in a 123-112 defeat of the Lakers, and defensive star Bobby Jones, Denver, which was tied with Chicago for the Midwest Division lead at Christmas, has taken a firm hold on first place, leaving the Bulls 5� games behind. Central leader Washington handed Portland only its sixth defeat of the year, 102-93, and snapped the Blazers' seven-game winning streak. The next night the Bullets, playing their fifth game of the week, turned about and lost to Buffalo 130-93. San Antonio (2-1) remained 1� games back. The Blazers' loss to the Bullets hardly affected the Pacific race; Phoenix (2-0) remained in second place, seven games behind. Third-place Seattle, 17-3 since Lenny Wilkens took over as coach, won three and hit the .500 mark for the first time this season but still trailed Portland by 12 games. In Los Angeles the big question was what has happened to Kareem? The Lakers. 8-13 when Abdul-Jab-bar returned to action six weeks ago, were expected to regain the form that gave them the Pacific title last season. But Kareem's aggressiveness and domination have been missing, and L.A. is now 17-24 and remains in the cellar. The 7'2" center says he has been inhibited by the spate of violence in the NBA. Uninhibited Philadelphia won four and strengthened its lead over second-place New York to 6� games. After losing their first two games under new Coach Satch Sanders, the Celtics won two, but that was hardly cause for celebration. One of the victories was over the 9-32 Nets, and it took an overtime to do it.
BOWLING—MARSHALL HOLMAN won the $90,000 Ford Open in Alameda. Calif., 221-218 over Jimmy Certain.
CHESS—VIKTOR KORCHNOI qualified to challenge world champion Anatoly Karpov by defeating Boris Spassky 10� to 7�. Spassky angrily resigned the 18th game of their semifinal match in Belgrade.
PRO FOOTBALL—NFC champion DALLAS outclassed AFC titleholder Denver 27-10 in the Super Bowl for the NFL championship (page 16).
HOCKEY—NHL: Cleveland was busy on and off the ice. The Barons picked up five new players in two deals with Colorado and one with the New York Islanders: Forwards Chuck Arnason, Rick Jodzio and J. P. Parise and Defensemen Dennis O'Brien and Jean Potvin. Their welcome to Cleveland was a brutal stretch of four games in four nights, something that few NHL clubs have ever had to face. The Barons, who are in last place in the Adams Division, won the first three, beating the Islanders 5-3, Buffalo 6-3 and Toronto 5-2, but ran out of energy in a 4-2 loss to Pittsburgh. Los Angeles Coach Ron Stewart had his own thoughts about the NHL's schedule after Detroit, which had been canceled out of its game at Montreal the night before, scored a 4-3 victory over the Kings, who were playing their fourth game in five nights. "I want someone to read and hear about how the NHL can allow Montreal to cancel a game just because the Canadiens don't want to play three games [including an exhibition against the U.S.S.R.'s Spartak team] in four nights." Stewart said. Detroit Coach Bobby Kromm shared Stewart's sentiments. "I think the Kings have a legitimate beef," he said. Concluded Slew-art: "Quite obviously, we have two sets of rules here: one for Montreal and one for the rest of the league." After losing only two games in two months, Boston dropped three in seven days-5-3 to both Buffalo and Montreal and 3-2 to the New York Rangers. Philadelphia ended a five-game winless streak by beating the Rangers 4-1: earlier the Flyers had tied Montreal 3-3 on Paul Holmgren's knuckleball shot that eluded Ken Dryden at 19:59 of the third period. Five New York Islanders were voted to the Campbell Conference's first all-star team: Defenseman Denis Potvin. Goaltender Billy Smith and the line of Bryan Trottier, Clark Gillies and rookie Mike Bossy.
WHA: Backed by Vladislav Tretjak's spectacular goal-tending, the Soviet National Team defeated first-place New England 7-4 to wind up its WHA tour with a 5-1 record. The Whalers still lead second-place Winnipeg by four points in the standings. The Jets routed Birmingham 11-2 as Anders Hedberg scored goals 31 and 32 and Bobby Hull added 28 and 29. Edmonton raised its record against Cincinnati to 5-0 with a 2-0 victory.
HORSE RACING—TEXT ($19.80) survived a claim of interference in the stretch made by Steve Cauthen, who rode J.O. Tobin, to win the $110,500 San Fernando Stakes, second of the three-race Strub Series at Santa Anita. The Elmendorf colt, ridden by Fernando Toro. ran the nine furlongs in 1:49 [2/5], finishing two lengths in front of highly favored J.O. Tobin. who won the first leg of the Strub.
Dr. Valeri, a 116-to-1 shot ridden by Rene Riera Jr., came from last place to upset favored Quadratic by half a length in the $122,000 Tropical Park Derby at Calder. The winner ran the mile and a sixteenth in 1:45 [1/5] and paid $235.40 on a $2 wager, the highest stakes pay-off in the history of Florida thoroughbred racing.
MOTOR SPORTS—After winning the pole position with a track-record lap time of 1:47.75 on the 5.968.2-meter circuit, MARIO ANDRETTI drove his Lotus to an easy-victory in the 53-lap Argentine Grand Prix in Buenos Aires. Defending world champion Niki Lauda was second, 13.21 seconds behind, in his first race for the Brabham team.
SPEED SKATING—At the U.S. International Skating Association's all-round championships in West Allis, Wisc., ERIC HEIDEN won the men's title with 168.151 points, setting track records in the 1,500- and 3,000-meter races. His sister BETH HEIDEN won the women's title with 182.655 points, skating to track records in the 1,000 and the 3,000 meters.