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PRO BASKETBALL—When Houston Forward Major Jones pleaded "no contest" to a drunk-driving charge last week, he unwittingly described most of the games his team has played this season. The 11-53 Rockets virtually have a lock on last place in the Western Conference, which ensures them of at least a coin flip for the No. 1 pick in the June draft, sometimes called the Sampson Sweepstakes because Virginia Center Ralph Sampson is considered the top prize. Until recently it seemed a toss might not be necessary, inasmuch as Houston also owns the rights to the top selection of Cleveland, an Eastern Conference doormat. But the once hapless Cavaliers have regained some of their hap, winning eight of their last 15. Meanwhile, lowly Indiana has put together a modest 12-game losing streak. To make matters worse for the Rockets, they out-inepted Cleveland in a last-minute 102-99 loss to the Cavaliers. That Cleveland win gave the Pacers sole possession of last in the East for the first time this season. Losses to Detroit (107-101), Portland (101-97) and Seattle (127-121), dropped Indiana behind Cleveland, but the Cavs proved they shouldn't be counted out of the running by losing 117-83 to Central Division leader Milwaukee. Only Philadelphia, No. 1 in the Atlantic, had clinched a playoff spot, but the sixth and final berths in each conference were really the only ones in question. Denver, riding a 10-game winning streak, was 4� games behind San Antonio, the Midwest Division pacesetters, and in sixth place in the West but only 2� games in front of Kansas City. In the East, the Atlanta Hawks were overtaken by a Sparrow, New York Guard Rory Sparrow that is, who used to nest with their flock. Since he fluttered to the Knicks in a Feb. 12 trade, New York has won 11 of 13, including a 97-95 victory over Portland on his desperation 28-footer at the buzzer. Los Angeles, the Pacific leader, beat Golden State 116-112, San Diego 119-114 and Chicago 123-116.
BOXING—JEFF CHANDLER retained his WBA bantamweight title with a unanimous 15-round decision over Gaby Canizales in Atlantic City.
FIGURE SKATING—In Helsinki, SCOTT HAMILTON won the men's world championships for the third consecutive year; ROSALYNN SUMNERS was the women's title winner; JAYNE TORVILL and CHRISTOPHER DEAN of Great Britain garnered their third straight ice dancing crown; and ELENA VALOVA and OLEG VASILIEV of the Soviet Union won the pairs (page 58).
PRO FOOTBALL—USFL: The league is still so young that to call a player a rookie means he missed the first game and played in the second. The rookie of the week, Quarterback Alan Risher of Arizona, threw three TDs in a 30-29 win over Chicago. Last week's most watched rookies, Herschel Walker of New Jersey and Michigan's Anthony Carter, became this week's most watched vets. Neither was much to look at. Walker gained 60 yards on 13 carries, two of which he fumbled away, as the Generals surrendered to Philadelphia 25-0. Carter caught three passes for 33 yards, but his Panthers were declawed 19-7 by Tampa Bay. That's three more receptions than Carter made in Michigan's 9-7 Monday night defeat of Birmingham. The star rookie of that game was Placekicker Novo Bojovic, a Yugoslav �migr� who made three fields, the shortest a 48-yarder. Bojovic may have won fans in the U.S., but his relatives in Titograd remain skeptical. "I sent them clippings from my college games," said Bojovic, out of Central Michigan. "They didn't believe them. They think I pay the paper to put my picture in." After a 21-7 loss to Boston, Denver players should be paying papers to keep their pictures out. Birmingham outlasted Oakland 20-14 in the league's first overtime game (page 26).
HOCKEY—Patrick Division leader Philadelphia had summit meetings with leaders from the Norris ( Chicago) and Adams ( Boston) and didn't come out on top. The Black Hawks poked, peppered and pummeled Flyer Goalie Pelle Lindbergh, who turned out not to be lucky at all in a 4-1 defeat. The Bruins showed Philly they were not quite ready for d�tente by flogging the Flyers 5-2. Fortunately, Philadelphia didn't have to play Smythe Division leader Edmonton. Wayne Gretzky had a hat trick in the Oilers' 9-4 rout of Hartford and rapped in his 63rd goal of the season in a 6-2 win over Buffalo.
MOTOR SPORTS—RICHARD PETTY drove a Pontiac to victory in the rain-delayed $253,865 Warner W. Hodgdon Carolina 500 in Rockingham, N.C. He averaged 113.055 mph around the 1.017-mile oval, beating Bill Elliott, in a Ford, by half a car length.
INDOOR SOCCER—MISL: A first-quarter power failure stopped Baltimore's home game against St. Louis with the Blast ahead 2-0, but when play resumed Baltimore's lights went out for good. Four Tony Glavin goals helped flick off the East leaders 6-4. Four nights later the Steamers' hopes of catching first-place San Diego in the West were dimmed by a 3-2 loss to Memphis.