PRO BASKETBALL—"I've never enjoyed a game more in my life," said Cleveland Forward Campy Russell, who returned after a week's bout with the flu to a chilly Coliseum but, nevertheless, warmed to the task. He pumped in 23 points—all after the half—which, added to ex-Knick Walt Frazier's 26, helped beat New York 136-127 in double overtime. The fun was just beginning. The Cavs next trounced Denver 119-87, burst the bubble of the soaring Nets when Frazier knocked the ball away from John Williamson in the final seconds for a 99-96 victory and spoiled Kansas City's seven-game winning streak. The Cavs, tied last week with New Orleans for third in the Central, moved past ailing Washington to take sole possession of second place. The Jazz, who had a 10-game winning streak snapped after losing Pete Maravich and have since dropped seven straight, had a bit of good news. The injured guard does not need surgery and is expected to return in time to try to put the team back into playoff contention. Last-place Houston, buoyed by the return of injured Mike Newlin, won three, but lost 125-102 to Kansas City which, although 15th in defense, held the Rockets scoreless for seven minutes. In their tear, the Kings also beat Cleveland 101-88 and Buffalo 108-100, out-rebounding the Braves 62-47 to climb two games out of the Midwest cellar, but are 13� behind Denver, which holds the distinction of being the only nugget Portland cannot crack. After 44 straight home wins, the Blazers fell to Denver 103-101 and lost again on the Nuggets' home court 112-105. A tired Chicago, playing its fifth game in 5� days, fell 111-94 to Indiana, which scored a club-record 23 consecutive points—one shy of Philadelphia's 1966 NBA record—and broke a nine-game losing streak. The Bulls also lost to Seattle and San Antonio—their eighth straight road defeat—and tumbled to third place, Milwaukee taking over second. Phoenix' 16-game, home-court winning streak was snapped 98-95 by Boston, which also beat Golden State 98-75, where fans booed the return of Kermit Washington. In L. A. he received a standing ovation. Coach Kevin Loughery, whose Nets were 2-2, was replaced as the Bullets' alltime leading scorer by Elvin Hayes, whose 18,916 points put him 11th on the league's alltime scoring list. But Loughery may well be on his way to setting a season record for coaches—he was hit with three more technicals and has 26 for the season.
BOWLING—PETE COUTURE won his first PBA title, the $100,000 Midas Golden Challenge in New Orleans, upsetting top-seeded Dave Davis 223-187.
BOXING—LEON SPINKS defeated Muhammad Ali on a split decision in Las Vegas to win the world heavyweight championship (page 14).
In a preliminary in Las Vegas, DANNY LOPEZ retained his WBC featherweight title on a sixth-round knockout of David Kotei.
Sammy Serrano retained his WBA junior, lightweight title with a unanimous decision over Mario Martinez in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
GOLF—Winning his first PGA event after four years on-the tour, BILL ROGERS shot a 21-under-par 339 to take the rain-delayed, 90-hole $225,000 Bob Hope Desert Classic in Palm Springs, Calif.
Gil Morgan won the $200,000 Los Angeles Open with a six-under-par 278, two strokes better than Jack Nicklaus (page 50).
HOCKEY—NHL: This week's chutzpah award goes to Montreal Defenseman Larry Robinson. As the Canadiens rolled over St. Louis 6-2, Washington 8-2 and Colorado 9-4 for their NHL-record 24th, 25th and 26th games without a defeat, Robinson said, "We're still not playing to our capabilities. Hopefully, it's just a phase we're going through." The unbeaten phase Montreal is going through began two months ago, on Dec. 18, following a 5-3 loss at Pittsburgh. Since then the Canadiens have won 21 games and tied five, including a remarkable 13 wins and three ties on the road. The runner-up for the chutzpah award is one of Robinson's teammates, Forward Mario Tremblay, who offered this terse analysis of the Canadiens' streak: "Three of our ties should have been victories." Minnesota won its first game at Philadelphia since 1971, beating the Flyers 4-2 as Bryan Maxwell, on the ice for the first time since being acquired from the WHA Whalers, had a goal and an assist. Former St. Louis Defenseman Barclay Plager replaced Leo Boivin as coach of the Blues, who had not won in their last 12 games. They won their first game under Plager, beating Vancouver 4-3. The aces of the Adams Division staged a mini-tournament: Toronto beat Buffalo 4-2 as Lanny McDonald scored twice off face-offs, but then they lost to Boston 4-2. Buffalo Goal-tender Don Edwards later had his 30th victory, a 5-0 blanking of Los Angeles, an NHL high.
WHA: Off the ice, Winnipeg was struggling with another financial crisis; the publicly owned team, which opened the 1977-78 season with a $500,000 deficit, had to borrow money from previous owners Saul Simkin and Ben Hatskin in order to meet the players' payroll and also asked the Winnipeg Enterprises Corp., which controls the Winnipeg Arena, to defer rent payments until the end of the season. Moreover, the Jets had only one week to come up with the nearly $2 million needed to keep Swedish stars Ulf Nilsson and Anders Hedberg from signing with the NHL Rangers. On the ice, Winnipeg was overwhelming, padding its lead over second-place New England to six points with a 2-1 sudden-death defeat of the Whalers on Willy Lindstrom's goal at 3:15. It was their 10th straight triumph, but their first in nine overtime games this season.
HORSE RACING—Bahamas winner QUADRATIC ($4.40), Eddie Maple up, took the $51,000 Everglades Stakes at Hialeah, running the nine furlongs in 1:49[2/5] to finish 3� lengths in front of Tropical Park Derby winner Dr. Valeri. But the Woody Stephens-trained colt suffered a chip fracture of the right knee during the race and will miss the remainder of the 3-year-old campaign.