PRO BASKETBALL—It's the rainy season in Southern California, and no one knows it better than the Los Angeles Lakers. But, at last, a ray of sunshine. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, averaging just 11.6 rebounds and 24.5 points a game going into the week, was his old uninhibited self again. He grabbed a season-high 20 rebounds and pumped in 39 points to give the Lakers a 117-102 victory over Philadelphia and then got 21 rebounds and 26 points in a 131-114 defeat of Milwaukee. Los Angeles had its longest win streak of the season—five—and once again relegated Golden State to the cellar. The Sixers also lost at Phoenix, where the Suns have seldom shone brighter. They have won 12 straight at home, as well as nine of their last 10 games, 20 of 26, and their 31-15 record is the third-best in the league. Phoenix moved to within 6� games of Portland, which lost its second straight, 106-95, to Central leader San Antonio. George Gervin pumped in 34 points against the Blazers and 37 more against Boston to give San Antonio its fifth straight win. The NBA's leading scorer, Pete Maravich (28), tallied 92 points, and the league's leading rebounder, Truck Robinson (16.3), took down 50 rebounds as the Jazz defeated Detroit, Boston and Kansas City. Before a game in mile-high Denver, Knick trainer Danny Whelan requested an oxygen tank for the Knick bench. "It's the first NBA team to make such a request," said Denver VP Bob King. But the Knicks didn't need the O[Sub 2], as they gave the Nuggets the one-two, 143-141 in overtime. It was only the second home loss of the season for Denver, and the win came despite the loss of Coach Willis Reed, who was ejected from the game. Also in overtime and at home, Denver barely edged Buffalo, of all teams, 121-119, and lost at Chicago 131-114. Maybe it's time for the Nuggets to take a whiff.
BOWLING—MARK ROTH edged Marshall Holman 216-213 to win the $100,000 Quaker State Open in Grand Prairie, Texas.
BOXING—ALEXIS ARGUELLO of Nicaragua won the WBC junior lightweight title from Alfredo Escalera on a 13th-round TKO in San Juan.
GOLF—TOM WATSON won the rain-delayed $225,000 Bing Crosby Pro-Am in Pebble Beach, Calif. from Ben Crenshaw in sudden death with a three-foot birdie putt on the second playoff hole.
Jay Haas, 24, won his first pro tournament, the $200,000 Andy Williams- San Diego Open, with a 10-under-par 278, three strokes in front of Andy Bean, Gene Littler and John Schroeder.
Joanne Carner won the $105,000 Colgate Triple Crown Match Play tournament in Palm Springs (page 22).
HOCKEY—NHL: For Phil Esposito and his New York Rangers, it was the worst of weeks. First came a 3-1 loss at Pittsburgh. Next, in the All-Star Game between the Wales and Campbell conferences at Buffalo, Esposito unwittingly lost the game for the Campbells 3-2 when he rerouted Gilbert Perreault's shot past Goal-tender Wayne Stephenson for the Wales' winning score. The next night the Rangers fell to Toronto 4-3. Afterward, several anonymous Rangers excoriated Coach Jean-Guy Talbot, claiming there is a communications gap between Talbot and his players and that Talbot doesn't prepare his players for each opponent. Three nights later the Rangers did little to enhance Talbot's job security, losing to the Islanders 6-2. In that game Esposito was deprived of a goal when Referee Bob Myers blew a too-quick whistle and Ranger Forwards Don Murdoch (slipped vertebra) and Greg Polis (knee strain) were carried off with injuries that will sideline them indefinitely. The Islanders' win over the Rangers extended their all-winning streak to six games and, coupled with Philadelphia's 6-4 loss at Colorado (page 53), elevated them into first place in the Patrick Division for the first time this season. Chicago won three straight games at home, outscoring St. Louis, Detroit and Cleveland by a total of 14 goals to two, and padded its Smythe Division lead to 12 points over second-place Vancouver. The Black Hawks' 5-0 defeat of the Barons was witnessed by only 527 Chicago diehards, all of whom braved one of the most severe snowstorms in the city's history. Boston beat Colorado 4-3 and Washington 5-2 to increase its Adams Division lead over second-place Buffalo to four points. Montreal extended its unbeaten streak to 17 games. Vancouver entertained the smallest crowd in its eight-year NHL history—an estimated 10,000—with an 8-3 rout of St. Louis.
WHA: Bobby Hull and the Winnipeg Jets had a week almost as bad as the Rangers'. On the ice the Jets lost to Indianapolis 5-4 when Racers Reg Thomas and Claude St. Sauveur scored the tying and winning goals within a span of six seconds and then lost to Birmingham 8-5 to fall eight points behind first-place New England. Off the ice the Jets were presented with the official contract offer tendered to star Forwards Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson by the New York Rangers. The total package amounts to some $1.9 million over two years; to keep the Swedes, the Jets apparently must offer them at least $1.88 million.
HORSE RACING—The $100,000 Hialeah Challenge Cup for 4-year-olds—a race written specifically for Seattle Slew but marred by his absence amid rumors of his retirement—was won by RUN DUSTY RUN ($8), who was second to Slew in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont and third in the Preakness. Ridden by Don Brumfield, Run Dusty survived a foul claim and a head-to-head battle down the stretch with favored Silver Series to win in a photo finish by a nose, covering the nine furlongs in 1:47[3/5].
MOTOR SPORTS—JEAN-PIERRE NICOLAS and VINCENT LAVERNE, in a Porsche Carrera, became the first non-factory entrants to win the Monte Carlo Rally in 20 years.