BASKETBALL—NBA: BOSTON (4-0) kept its record clean with wins over the Royals, 108-101, and the Bucks, 102-89, while CINCINNATI (3-2), playing without the full-time services of injured Oscar Robertson, won one but lost two and fell back into a three-way tie for second, 1½ games out. BALTIMORE (4-3), with three wins in five games, and PHILADELPHIA (3-2), with one in three, were the other two-thirds of the tie. NEW YORK (3-3) broke into the win column against the 76ers, 117-114, and followed that with two more wins and a loss. DETROIT's (2-3) two victories were paced by Dave Bing, who scored 39 points in the first, 37 in the second. MILWAUKEE (0-4) came close once, but lost 114-112 to the Knicks. By winning two straight, SAN FRANCISCO (3-1) vaulted to first place in the Western Division and, to make things even better. Warrior Rudy LaRusso passed the 10,000-point mark with 22 against the Suns. In a three-way tie for second place were SAN DIEGO (2-2), the victim of two straight losses, PHOENIX (2-2), a 109-92 winner against the Knicks but a loser in two others, and ATLANTA (2-2), which beat the Bulls but lost to the Sonics. Half a game farther back were CHICAGO (2-3) and LOS ANGELES (2-3). The Lakers managed a 117-111 win over the Bullets without Elgin Baylor, who had a sore knee, but lost two others. Though SEATTLE (2-4) had to suffer through another loss, its fourth, the Sonics came back with wins over the Rockets and the Hawks.
BOXING—World welterweight champion CURTIS COKES successfully defended his title against the challenge of Ramon La Cruz of Buenos Aires, ranked No. 1 by the World Boxing Association and known as "El Matador." Cokes earned a unanimous decision after 15 rounds in New Orleans and the victory brought his record to 54 wins, nine losses and three draws.
Despite being knocked down in the second and fourth rounds, DICK TIGER of Biafra, the 39-year-old former world light-heavyweight champion, won a unanimous 10-round decision from New Jersey's 29-year-old Frankie DePaula at Madison Square Garden. Tiger, who lost his title five months ago to Bob Foster, now has 59 wins, 16 losses, three draws—and the possibility of another crack at the title.
FOOTBALL—NFL: BALTIMORE (6-1) delighted home-town fans by dumping Los Angeles (6-1) from its unbeaten position at the head of the Coastal Division, 27-10 (page 28). The Colts had a 17-point lead by halftime, and in the third quarter Earl Morrall threw 41 yards to Tom Mitchell to put the game out of reach. Meanwhile SAN FRANCISCO (4-3) scored when Dick Witcher picked up a teammate's fumble in the fourth quarter and scampered 12 yards for a touchdown to beat the Central Division leader, Detroit (3-3-1), 14-7. Mac Percival of CHICAGO (3-4) kicked a 47-yard field goal with just three seconds to play to give the Bears a 26-24 victory over Minnesota (3-4). It was Percival's fourth field goal of the game and his ninth in the last two games. CLEVELAND (4-3) maintained its share of the Century Division lead as Leroy Kelly gained 112 yards in 19 tries, Bill Nelsen completed 17 of 26 for 248 yards and the Browns whipped Atlanta (1-6) 30-7. With its share of first place at stake, ST. LOUIS (4-3) scored three touchdowns in the final quarter to beat New Orleans (3-4) 31-17. Despite being held inside the 5-yard line twice in the first half, NEW YORK (5-2) pulled out a 13-10 win over Washington (3-4) after an 80-yard drive in the final quarter. PITTSBURGH (1-6) and Philadelphia (0-7), both winless going into the game, fought it out for the championship of Pennsylvania. The Steelers stumbled to a 6-3 win on a field goal in the final seconds.
AFL: The NEW YORK (5-2) defense intercepted five passes and recovered three fumbles as the Jets crushed Boston (3-4) 48-14. Until late in the fourth quarter, when they scored on an 87-yard pass, the Patriots had entered Jets territory only three times. The win gave the Jets a two-game lead in the East. HOUSTON (3-5) moved from fourth to third place on a 30-7 win over last-place Buffalo (1-6-1) during which the Bills used three quarterbacks. In the Western Division, KANSAS CITY (7-1) extended its lead to a game and a half by preserving a 27-20 win over San Diego (5-2) when Chief Jim Kearney-intercepted a Charger pass on his own five-yard line with less than two minutes to play. Touchdown passes of 14, 12 and seven yards by Daryle Lamonica gave OAKLAND (5-2) a 31-10 win over last-place Cincinnati (2-6) and a tie for second place. DENVER (3-4) held on to fourth with a 21-14 win against Miami (2-4-1).
GOLF—A birdie on the 72nd hole gave JACK NICK-LAUS the Australian Open at Balcatta by one stroke over Gary Player. His winning score was 270. 18 under par. and included a course-record 64 in the second round.
Bob Dickson, 24. of Tulsa, Okla., last year's U.S. and British Amateur champion and now a rookie on the professional tour, won his first PGA event, the $110,000 Haig Open Invitational in Costa Mesa, Calif., with a 13 under par 271, two strokes ahead of veteran Chi Chi Rodriguez.
HARNESS RACING—RUM CUSTOMER ($3.80) completed his sweep of the Triple Crown of pacing by taking the $189,018 Messenger Stakes at Roosevelt Raceway, the richest event in the history of the harness sport, by three lengths over his stablemate, Tropic Song. Driver-Trainer Billy Haughton took Rum Customer back early, giving the lead chore to Fulla Napoleon until the final turn. It was the veteran Haughton's first Triple Crown. The winner's time was 2:01[4/5] for the mile.
HOCKEY—NHL: MONTREAL (5-0-1), with three straight wins, took sole possession of first place in the East, while CHICAGO (5-1-0) held on to second with a win and a loss. The Black Hawks' Jim Pappin, the league's leading goal scorer, added goals seven and eight to his season total in an 8-5 win over the Penguins. Ranger Goalie Ed Giacomin gained his second shutout as NEW YORK (4-2-0) gobbled up three more expansion teams and moved into a tie for third place with BOSTON (4-3-0), which lost two straight. TORONTO (3-1-1) closed the gap on the leaders with two wins and left DETROIT (1-3-0) to muse on its one game, one loss for the week. ST. LOUIS (3-4-0) took only one game in three, rallying for two goals in the third period to beat the Bruins, but that was enough to move the Blues one point ahead of MINNESOTA (2-4-1) in the West. LOS ANGELES (2-4-1), with a win and two losses, and OAKLAND (2-5-1), with two wins, including one over the Black Hawks, and two losses, turned second place into a three-way tie. PITTSBURGH (1-3-2) got its first win of the season, a 4-2 upset of the division leading Blues, while PHILADELPHIA (1-3-1) lost one and tied one.
HORSE RACING—Louis Rowan's QUICKEN TREE ($6.40) with Bill Hartack up won the 2-mile, $100,000-added Jockey Club Gold Cup on getaway day at Belmont Park. He covered the distance in 3:22⅘ finishing 1¼ lengths ahead of Funny Fellow. Horse of the Year (1967) Damascus, last year's winner and the 6 to 5 favorite this year, bowed a tendon in his left front leg and finished last in the field of six. Should the Gold Cup be his last race, Damascus' career record will stand at 32 starts, 21 wins, seven seconds and three thirds, and the issue of his rivalry with Dr. Fager will remain unresolved, each having won twice in their four meetings.
The country's richest steeplechase, the $55,950 Temple Gwathmey at Belmont Park, was won by CHINA RUN ($20), a 4-year-old gelding purchased only four days before by F. Eugene Dixon Jr., president of the National Steeplechase and Hunt Association. The winning time, 6:02 for 3‚⅛ miles, bettered Bampton Castle's four-month-old course record by 10 [2/5] seconds.
MOTOR SPORTS—New Zealand's BRUCE McLAREN, driving one of his McLaren-Chevrolets, won the Los Angeles Times Grand Prix in Riverside, Calif (page 68).
MILEPOSTS—SIGNED: ELSTON HOWARD, 39, former New York Yankee catcher and 1963 MVP, to the first-base coaching job with the team he played on from 1955 to 1967, during which the Yankees won nine pennants and four World Series. Howard, who officially retired as a player one day before signing, becomes the first Negro coach in the American League.
DIED: MARSHALL CASSIDY, 76, a dominant figure in American Thoroughbred racing for more than 30 years, in Glen Cove, N.Y. In addition to serving as an officer of the New York Racing Association and The Jockey Club, and as a director of several other major racing organizations, he was the inventor of the stall starting gate, the perfector of the photo-finish camera and the film patrol, the inaugurator of the first electrical timing device used in U.S. racing and the founder of a school for the training of racing officials.