BASKETBALL—NBA: Boston and New York traded spine-tingling victories (page 12), and by week's end the Celtics, with three of five wins overall, led the Knicks, winners of three of four, by 4½ games in the East Division. Central leader Baltimore edged closer to a .500 record (24-26) with three straight wins, defeating Cincinnati twice—132-101 on 43 points in the last period and 132-124—and Buffalo 115-114 when Wes Unseld scored a basket with one second left in overtime. With Pistol Pete Maravich feeling better and scoring more, second-place Atlanta, five games out, won three of four, including a 118-113 victory over Milwaukee as Maravich popped in 35 points (14 in the last five minutes) and made 14 assists, and a 123-110 win over Buffalo as Pistol Pete tossed in 28. Milwaukee held its 4½-game lead over Chicago in the Midwest when both teams took three of four, while Golden State chipped half a game off of Los Angeles' Pacific Division lead (11½) by winning four of five as the Lakers snapped out of their mild slump with two wins in a row. The Warriors' 11-game victory streak was stopped by the Bulls 110-105, and Cleveland's 11-game losing streak came to an end when the Cavs, bolstered by the return of rookie Austin Carr, who had been out with a bad foot since Dec. 8, unexpectedly dumped Boston 112-108.
ABA: Kentucky, the East leader, and Utah, tops in the West, both increased their leads in the divisional races before taking a break for the All-Star Game. The Colonels split four games, walloping the Stars by 36 points and edging Indiana 98-94, arid losing to New York by 13 and to Memphis 107-99 to snap a 10-game road victory streak. Runner-up Virginia, eight games behind, dropped three, including a 130-123 loss to Denver despite league-scoring leader Charlie Scott's 50 points. Third-place New York picked up 2½ games on the Squires and climbed to within 5½ of second by winning three of four. The Nets beat the Floridians 116-105, the Colonels 118-105 as rookie John Roche scored 31 points and the Squires 114-112 when Rick Barry, who scored 44, popped in an 18-foot jumper with four seconds to go. In New York's only loss, 123-116 in overtime to Pittsburgh, the Condors outscored the Nets 11 points to one in the last 3½ minutes of the fourth period, then hit 11 straight points in the first 2½ minutes of the overtime period. Utah's lead over Indiana in the West climbed to four games as the Stars won two of three and the Pacers beat only the Floridians in three games.
The favored EAST, paced by Carolina rookie Jim McDaniels' record 18 points in the final period, put on a dazzling display of fast breaks and accurate passing late in the contest to overwhelm the West 142-115 in the ABA All-Star Game in Louisville.
HOCKEY—First-place Boston pulled five points ahead of New York in the East by tying Buffalo 3-3 on Dallas Smith's 50' slap shot midway in the third period and beating Philadelphia twice 4-2, as the Rangers split two games. In the first Bruin win over the Flyers, Phil Esposito knocked in three goals to bring his season total to 42, making him only the second player in NHL history to score 40 or more goals in four consecutive seasons (Bobby Hull was the first). In a rare occurrence, the Canadiens' Frank Mahovlich and the North Stars' Lou Nanne each scored three goals in the same game, and Nick Libett slapped in three in Detroit's 3-1 win over Buffalo on the same night Esposito gained his hat trick. Minnesota won three—5-3 over Los Angeles, 6-5 over Montreal and 4-2 over New York—but still remained 10 points behind West leader Chicago, which also took three in a row. The Black Hawks' Tony Esposito gained his fifth and sixth shutouts of the season in 4-0 victories over Toronto and Vancouver and extended his shutout string to three. Gary Smith was in the goal for the Hawks' 4-2 win over Pittsburgh.
The favored EAST edged the West 3-2 in the NHL All-Star Game in Bloomington, Minn. as Jean Ratelle, John McKenzie and Phil Esposito scored consecutive goals to overcome a 2-0 second-period West lead. Gilles Villemure look over for Ken Dryden in the East nets midway through the second period and shut out the West the rest of the way.
MOTOR SPORTS—For the first time in the 41-year history of the Monte Carlo Rally, two Italians, SANDRO MUNARI and MARIO MANUCCI, driving a Lancia Fulvia, won the grueling seven-day, 2,300-mile event. Only 34 of 299 cars finished.
TRACK & FIELD—STEVE PREFONTAINE, the meet's outstanding performer for the second year in a row, easily won the two-mile run in 8:26.6, 7.4 seconds short of the world record, at the Oregon Indoor Invitational in Portland, and in the process lapped Jim Ryun, who finished fourth. AL FEUERBACH heaved the shot 68'6¼", which was just 4¾" shy of his world mark, while Sweden's KJELL ISAKSSON reached 17'3" in the pole vault and JOHN RADETICH cleared seven feet in the high jump.
Two meet records were set in the 65th Wanamaker Millrose Games at New York's Madison Square Garden when LEONARD HILTON was clocked in 13:21.0 in the three-mile run, smashing George Young's 1968 mark by 10.8 seconds, and LEE EVANS took the 600 in 1:09.9, beating Martin McGrady, the old record holder, for the second successive week. In other events, MEL PENDER edged Dr. Delano Meriwether in the 60-yard dash (6.2); ROD MILBURN won the 60-yard hurdles (7.1), defeating Leon Coleman, Thomas Hill and Willie Davenport; JURS LUZINS beat Australia's Ralph Doubell in the 1,000-yard run (2:07.2) as Tom Von Ruden, who finished second, was disqualified; JOHN MASON won the mile in 4:03.2; TOM BLAIR pole-vaulted 17 feel; and REYNALDO BROWN cleared 7' in the high jump.
MILEPOSTS—AWARDED: The $10,000 Hickok diamond-and-gold belt as Professional Athlete of the Year to LEE TREVINO, 32, winner of the British and U.S. Opens. Trevino, who had already been named Sportsman of the Year by SPORTS ILLUSTRATED, Golfer of the Year by the PGA and Male Athlete of the Year by the Associated Press, finished ahead of Roberto Clemente of the Pittsburgh Pirates and Heavyweight Champion Joe Frazier.
ELECTED: To Baseball's Hall of Fame by the Veteran's Committee, Pitcher VERNON (Lefty) GOMEZ, 62, Outfielder ROSS YOUNGS and former American League President WILL HARRIDGE. The eccentric Gomez, a lefthander, won 189 games in 13 seasons with the New York Yankees (1930-1942) and was 6-0 in five World Series (a record). Youngs, a superb rightfielder for the New York Giants from 1917 to 1926, batted .322 and played in four Series before dying of a kidney ailment at age 30, while Harridge headed the AL from 1931-59.
RETIRED: DEBBIE MEYER, 19, winner of three freestyle swimming gold medals at the 1968 Olympics. "I don't seem to have the drive anymore," said Meyer. "I have been to the Olympics and I don't want to work that hard to get there again."
SIGNED: as head coach of the Chicago Bears, ABE GIBRON, 46, an assistant coach the past seven years. Gibron, a pro guard, for 11 seasons and a line coach with the Washington Redskins for five, becomes only the sixth coach of the Bears in 52 years.
TRADED: By the New York Giants, Quarterback FRAN TARKENTON, 31, to the Minnesota Vikings for Wide Receiver BOB GRIM, 26, reserve Quarterback NORM SNEAD, 32, rookie Running Back Vince Clements, 23, and two draft choices (page 16). In another trade, the San Diego Chargers obtained Defensive End DAVID (Deacon) JONES, 33, an All-Pro seven times in his 11-year career, Defensive Tackle GREG WOJCIK, 26, and Running Back LEE WHITE, 25, from the Los Angeles Rams for Linebacker JEFF STAGGS, 27, a five-year veteran, and three draft choices.