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PRO BASKETBALL—If the Knicks were becoming guardedly optimistic about their chances of winning their first Eastern Conference title in 16 years, you could hardly blame them: In a 3-0 week, during which New York ran its home win streak to 13 games, it defeated the Pistons, the conference champions, for the third straight time. 100-93. Knicks point guard Mark Jackson had 19 points in that victory, and his backup, rookie Hot Rod Strickland, scored 16, while their Detroit counterpart, Isiah Thomas, was harried into a 6-for-18 shooting performance. Even more annoyed were the 76ers, who. despite a 4-0 week, were practically where they were when the week began—four behind first-place New York in the Atlantic Division. In the Central Division, the Cavaliers, the NBA's best team, saw their 11-game winning streak come to an end. SuperSonics forward Derrick McKey finished things with a boom for the Cavs when he grabbed a last-second offensive rebound and slammed it home for a 105-103 Seattle victory. In the Midwest Division, the revamped Rockets gained a bit of breathing room, moving 3� ahead of third-place Denver and four up on Dallas. Houston, which at 22-12 has equaled the best start in the franchise's history, has but two players back from the 1986 Western Conference champions. The biggest of that pair, 7-foot center Akeem Olajuwon, had 32 points and 16 rebounds in a 116-106 win over Portland. Only the Jazz remained within two games of the Rockets, mostly because of the improvisational skills of guard John Stockton, who had 26 points, 16 assists and six steals in a 115-91 romp past the Spurs. In the Pacific Division, the Warriors tried a four-guard offense and got four wins. The most unguardable of those backcourtmen was Chris Mullin, who averaged 32 points and gave the Suns a stroke with his 39-11-11 triple double in a 130-124 win. Still, Golden State lagged six behind the division-leading Lakers and their fading 41-year-old center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (page 30).
GOLF—STEVE JONES birdied the first playoff hole to defeat Paul Azinger and Sandy Lyle and win the Bob Hope Classic and $180,000, in Palm Desert, Calif. Jones, Azinger and Lyle had 17-under-par 343s for the regulation 90 holes (page 20).
HOCKEY—Things have been going so well for the Flames, the Smythe Division leaders, that last week goaltender Rick Wamsley complained of boredom. Perhaps it was just Wamsley's nasty luck to miss all the excitement. Calgary's other goalie. Mike Vernon, was in the nets when his team's crafty center, Joe Nieuwendyk. scored five goals—four of them in the second period—to help beat the Jets 8-3. And Vernon was on the ice again when the North Stars delighted a sellout crowd at the Met Center by blasting 42 shots in his direction. It was the first time all season the Flames' defense had permitted more than 40 shots. Yet when all the shooting was done, a pumped-up Vernon emerged with a 1-1 tie. The second-place Kings were doing their best to keep Calgary interested. They used a pair of former Oilers to beat Edmonton 5-4, as Mike Krushelnyski scored the game-winner on Wayne Gretzky's fourth assist of the night. Center Bernie Nicholls scored three times for L.A. in a defeat of the Blues, but at week's end the Kings were still six points in back of Calgary. Fans of the Norris Division front-runners, the Red Wings, were happy that forward Steve Yzerman wasn't. Yzerman scored his 39th goal in a 3-2 win over the Adams Division—pace-setting Canadiens, added two more and three assists in a 5-5 deadlock with the Bruins and then pronounced himself displeased with his play of late. The Red Wings finished the week 13 points up on St. Louis and 14 ahead of Minnesota, whose 29-year-old captain, Craig Hartsburg, afflicted with painful hip, knee, shoulder and stomach injuries, abruptly retired. The Flyers' Derrick Smith no doubt made Hartsburg wince when, sliding on his tummy, he scored the game-winning goal in Philly's 3-2 defeat of the North Stars. This sort of fortitude helped keep the Flyers clustered with the Rangers, the Penguins and the Capitals in a tight race for the Patrick Division lead. Worried that its habit of peaking well before the playoffs might recur this year, Washington hired a team psychologist. Last week, with Freud on their side, the Caps were...peaking early and moving into first place.
INDOOR SOCCER—First-place Baltimore moved a game ahead of Dallas as the Blast split two weekend games with fifth-place Tacoma. On Friday, Stars forward Preki added five points to his league-leading total of 41 in a 7-3 win. The next night Carl Valentine's fifth goal of the game clinched an 8-7 overtime triumph for the Blast. Dallas, meanwhile, was blown out 7-2 by last-place Kansas City. Comets forward Jan Goossens sparked the upset with three second-half goals.
MARATHON—In the Houston Marathon, RICHARD KAITANY of Kenya ran a 2:10:04, breaking by 1:07 the course record set by Benji Durden of the United States in 1983 and beating runner-up Kenny Stuart of Great Britain by 1:32.
TENNIS—AARON KRICKSTEIN defeated Andrei Cherkasov 6-4, 6-2 to win the men's championship and $23,000 at the New South Wales Open in Sydney. MARTINA NAVRATILOVA beat Catarina Lindqvist 6-2, 6-4 to win the women's title and $40,000.
MILEPOSTS—CHARGED: By police in Atlanta, San Diego Charger linebacker CHIP BANKS, 29, with drug possession, aggravated sodomy and false imprisonment. Banks sat out the 1988 season because of a contract dispute.
ELECTED: To the Baseball Hall of Fame, by the Baseball Writers Association of America, former Cincinnati Reds catcher JOHNNY BENCH, 41, and former Boston Red Sox outfielder-first baseman, CARL YASTRZEMSKI, 49. During his 17 seasons (1967 through '83), Bench batted .267 with 389 home runs (a big league-record 327 of them as a catcher) and 1,376 RBIs and won 10 Gold Gloves. In 23 years (1961 through '83), Yastrzemski batted .285 with 452 home runs, 3,419 hits and 1,844 RBIs. Bench and Yastrzemski were the 18th and 19th players chosen for the Hall in their first season of eligibility.