BASKETBALL—NBA: BALTIMORE (14-5) fell out of first in the East, then nosed back, bating Detroit 128-127 on Gus Johnson's layup at the buzzer. Boston (13-5), which won its fifth Straight before losing to Los Angeles, was in first only one day, after downing Phoenix 133-106. PHILADELPHIA (10-4) rose to third place, holding Cincinnati's Oscar Robertson and Jerry Lucas to a total of four points in the first half, winning 120-105. Four days earlier, though, Robertson scored 29 and CINCINNATI (12-6) beat San Francisco 113-107. DETROIT (8-10) won only once, beating the Royals 121-107 and scoring 40 points in the final quarter. Dick Barnett of NEW YORK (8-13) sank a 20-foot jumper and two free throws with three minutes to go, as the Knicks beat the Bulls 114-107; a day later they beat the Celtics, scoring 16 straight points in the fourth quarter. MILWAUKEE (5-11), though last in the East, won two games. In one, Guy Rodgers scored 26 and then had 10 assists in a 119-98 win over Atlanta. LOS ANGELES (13-5) led the West by a wide margin, snapping Boston's five-game streak and extending its count to nine with a 116-106 win. Elgin Baylor scored 30 points and had 19 rebounds. SAN FRANCISCO (10-9) reached .500 and later broke the Lakers' streak with a 100-98 win. ATLANTA (10-10) also rose to .500, beating the Bulls 114-96. Elvin Hayes of SAN DIEGO (8-10) scored 84 points in two victories to take over the NBA scoring lead. CHICAGO (7-13) beat only the Bucks, 120-111, as Clem Haskins and Bob Boozer each scored 25. Neither PHOENIX (5-11) nor SEATTLE (6-17) won a game, and they remained sixth and seventh.
ABA: OAKLAND (12-2) had a yawning lead in the West. Mighty Oak Rick Barry had 37 points in one win and 48 in another. LOS ANGELES (6-5) lost one game but remained second. NEW ORLEANS (6-6) lost its third straight, but then won two in a row and stayed in third. Buccaneer Jackie Moreland scored 42, a team record, in a 114-108 win over Kentucky, and Jimmy Jones had a career high of 39 in a 129-117 victory over Indiana. DENVER'S (5-7) Billy McGill got six points late in the fourth quarter and the Rockets sank three free throws in the final seconds to down Minnesota 126-121. DALLAS (3-6) beat Indiana 110-107, John Beasley getting 28 points. HOUSTON (3-6) won once, over New Orleans 99-88, as Willie Somerset got 38 points. MINNESOTA (7-4) lost twice but held the Eastern lead. KENTUCKY (8-6) got 53 points from Darel Carrier—a league high for the season—in a 120-119 win at MIAMI (6-5). Floridian Dallas Thornton scored 39 points in his third pro game. Freddie Lewis of INDIANA (4-11) checked a last-minute Houston rally with two layups and a free throw, and the Pacers won 106-94. NEW YORK (6-8) beat Dallas 117-104. Two ex-Chaparrals starred, Bob Verga getting 20 points before leaving at the half and Maurice McHartley leading all scorers with 25 points.
FOOTBALL—NFL: The strong got stronger and the weak got weaker. BALTIMORE (10-1) held the Coastal Division lead, winning 21-9 over Minnesota (6-5). Earl Morrall threw two early TD passes, and it was all over at the half 21-3. LOS ANGELES
(9-1-1) took a 24-21 thriller from New York (7-4). Bruce Gossett's field goal with four seconds remaining was the clincher. SAN FRANCISCO (5-5-1) Quarterback John Brodie hit 12 of 13 first-half passes, two for TDs, in a 45-28 win over Pittsburgh (2-8-1). The 49ers intercepted five passes, running back two for scores. Craig Morton of DALLAS (9-2) solidified the Cowboys' Capitol Division lead, passing them to an easy 34-3 win over Chicago (5-6). CLEVELAND (8-3) humbled hopeless Philadelphia (0-11), winning its sixth straight 47-13. Leroy Kelly, the NFL's leading ground-gainer, scored twice, passing the 1,000-yard mark in season rushing. ST. LOUIS (6-4-1) held off a late Atlanta (2-9) scoring threat to win 17-12. The Cardinals threw Falcon Quarterback Bob Berry for losses 11 times, one short of the NFL record. GREEN BAY (5-5-1) substituted veteran Zeke Bratkowski for bruised Bart Starr against Washington (4-7), and on the first two sets of Packer downs old Zeke hit for eight straight passes and two TDs. The Packers won 27-7 as Bratkowski wound up with 18 of 24 passes completed, including a third TD pass. NEW ORLEANS (3-7-1) managed a 20-20 tie with DETROIT (3-6-2), extending the Lion nonwin streak to six and its own to five.
AFL: Superlative performances by quarterbacks highlighted every game. OAKLAND (9-2) went into a Western Division tie with idle Kansas City (9-2) on excellent passing from Daryle Lamonica and all-round play from George Blanda to shut out Cincinnati (3-9), the Western Division cellar dwellers, 34-0. Lamonica passed for one TD, set up two; then Blanda replaced him, passed for one score and kicked two field goals. NEW YORK (8-3) easily beat San Diego (8-3) in a 37-15 rout, depriving the Chargers of a Western Division tie with Kansas City and Oakland. Joe Namath kept the Jets ahead of inactive Houston (5-6) with 17 completions in 31 attempts, for 337 yards and two TDs. MIAMI (4-6-1) got three TD passes from Bob Griese, and handed Boston (3-8) its fifth straight loss 34-10. DENVER (5-6) scored an exciting 34-32 win over hopeless Buffalo (1-10-1). Bob Howfield's field goal, with seven seconds left, finally won it, but only after an amazing Bills comeback. Trailing for 58 minutes, Buffalo scored 10 points and led 32-31 with 26 seconds left. But the Broncos recovered a Buffalo onside kick, and Marlin Briscoe, who had thrown four TD passes earlier, set up Howfield's winning field goal.
GOLF—RON CERRUDO shot four successive sub-70 rounds (69-66-67-68) to win the $35,000 Cajun Classic, his first victory on the pro tour. His 270, 18 under par, tied the tournament record.
HARNESS RACING—BEST OF ALL ($2.60), the odds-on favorite, led all the way to win the $98,132 Realization Pace by 3¾ lengths, at Roosevelt Raceway.
HOCKEY—NHL: MONTREAL (12-4-3) dropped out of first in the East Division but then beat Philadelphia 3-0 and moved back in. NEW YORK (12-6) beat Los Angeles 4-2, Phil Goyette setting up three scores and caging the go-ahead goal himself. BOSTON (11-5-2) went on a scoring rampage, getting 15 goals in three games, to win five and tie two of eight (page 28). Bob Pulford of TORONTO (9-5-3) scored a goal and also got two assists in a 5-2 win over Pittsburgh. CHICAGO (9-8-1) Goalie Dave Dryden worked his first shutout of the season, 2-0 over Minnesota. DETROIT (7-7-3) beat the Maple Leafs 5-2, Gordie Howe getting two goals. ST. LOUIS (9-6-4) increased its West lead from four to eight points, shutting out Oakland and Chicago. LOS ANGELES (6-10-2) and MINNESOTA (6-10-2) floundered, and PHILADELPHIA (6-10-2) beat only the Kings, 3-1, all three goals coming in the last period. OAKLAND (5-12-3) won once and rose to third. Pittsburgh (3-12-3) remained deep in the West's cellar but managed its first win in eight games, 3-1 over Oakland.
MOTOR SPORTS—GARY BETTENHAUSEN deftly drove a rear-engine turbo Offenhauser by the wrecks at Phoenix International Raceway to win $9,300 in the 200-mile Bobby Ball Memorial Race.
MILEPOSTS—HONORED: STAN BAHNSEN, 23, New York Yankee pitcher, and JOHNNY BENCH, 20, Cincinnati Reds catcher, as 1968 Rookies of the Year, in the American and National leagues. Bahnsen had a 17-12 record and a 2.06 earned run average. Bench hit .275, had 15 home runs. He won by only one vote over the New York Mets' 19-game winner, Jerry Koosman, the closest finish in the 20-year history of the award.
NAMED: Flamboyant BILL VEECK, who brought excitement to baseball as owner of three major league clubs, to the presidency of Suffolk Downs, East Boston Thoroughbred and harness track.
DIED: FRESCO THOMPSON, 66, a vice-president of the Los Angeles Dodgers and the team's general manager, after a long illness, in Fullerton, Calif.