PRO BASKETBALL—ABA: Carolina Coach Larry Brown revamped his starting lineup, inserting newly acquired Jim Chones at center and moving third-year man Tom Owens to forward. Both responded, Chones hitting 13 of 17 for 26 points in the Cougars' opening rout of Virginia 133-96 and Owens with a career-high 41 points in the 99-98 victory over Indiana. New York finally stopped Carolina 111-107 as Julius Erving tallied 32 for the Nets, whose record was 2-1. Kentucky remained unbeaten after two games to lead the East, where Memphis was 1-1 and Virginia lost three of three, all emphatically. Squire Coach Al Bianchi bewailed his team's 37-point loss to Carolina: "The Cougars gave us what is known as a good old-fashioned fanny kicking."
In the West perennial powers Indiana and Utah fought it out with Denver, which got 83 points in three games from Ralph Simpson. San Diego won its first game under Wilt Chamberlain, but then wilted in two losses.
NBA: The champion Knicks played two one-point ball games in Madison Square Garden, scraping by the Detroit Pistons 101-100 and surprisingly losing the other to Houston 86-85. Boston took the early lead in the Atlantic Division, winning both its games. Houston unexpectedly rocketed to the top of the Central with three wins in four games while Milwaukee and Los Angeles continued where they left off last season, atop the Midwest and Pacific Divisions.
PRO FOOTBALL—The number of undefeated teams in the NFL dwindled to two as Washington stopped the Dallas winning streak at three with a 14-7 Monday night victory and Cincinnati scored the upset of the week on Sunday, defeating Pittsburgh 19-7. The Bengal defense held the Steelers scoreless for 52 minutes as rookie Running Back Charles Clark outgained all Pittsburgh runners combined 112 yards to 71. Another pretty good runner, O. J. Simpson, lost two yards in his first two carries but ended up with 166 yards and two touchdowns as Buffalo routed Baltimore 31-13. O. J. has now rushed for more than 100 yards in seven consecutive games and has compiled 813 yards in five games this year. And the Bills moved up with Miami at the head of the AFC East. Two teams which have had trouble scoring the last few weeks, Atlanta and Denver, exploded for 94 points. With Coach Norm Van Brocklin's job seemingly hanging in the balance, the Falcons scored their first touchdowns in 13 quarters—in fact, three of them within four minutes—during a 46-6 rout of Chicago. And Denver's Charley Johnson came back to haunt his former teammates as he threw four touchdown passes, three to Haven Moses, in the Broncos' 48-20 win over Houston. The game marked the Oilers' 16th straight regular season loss and their fifth this year. New Orleans won games back to back for the first time since 1969 by beating Detroit 20-13. Bill Butler bulled over from one yard out with 39 seconds left to give New Orleans its second consecutive upset. The short of it for the Saints was 5'5" Howard Stevens, who set up the winning drive with a 48-yard kickoff return. The long of it for Philadelphia was 6'8" Howard Carmichael, who caught two touchdown passes from Roman Gabriel. Don Zimmerman, in his first NFL start, caught Gabriel's third TD toss at the final gun to give the Eagles a 27-24 upset over St. Louis.
In his first NFL start, Jet Quarterback Bill Demory directed a potent ground game as New York beat New England 9-7 on Bobby Howfield's three field goals. Demory completed only one pass, but that 11-yarder to David Knight set up Howfield's winning boot with 1:56 left in the game. New York's other team, the Giants, committed six turnovers and fell to Washington 21-3 with Larry Brown scoring twice. The Redskins then gained undisputed possession of first in the NFL East, as Los Angeles cut down Dallas 37-31 for its fifth straight triumph. Ram Quarterback John Hadl threw first-half scoring strikes of 63, 16, 67 and 36 yards to Harold Jackson. Minnesota also extended its winning streak to five games as Paul Krause made two key interceptions in the fourth quarter to preserve a 17-13 win over San Francisco. With Ken Stabler connecting on two second-half touchdown passes, Oakland defeated San Diego 27-17 and moved within a half game of Kansas City, which tied Green Bay 10-10.
GOLF—GARY PLAYER won his fifth Piccadilly World Match-Play Championship at Virginia Water, England, defeating Australia's Graham Marsh on the fourth hole of sudden death (page 28).
Tied with Bert Yancey at a six-under-par 278 after 72 holes, MASASHI (Jumbo) OZAKA outshot him by three strokes in a three-hole playoff to win the $300,000 Pacific Club Masters in Inzai, Japan.
HARNESS RACING—HANDLE WITH CARE ($2.20), trained and driven by Bill Haughton, won her 15th straight pace with a nine-length victory over My True Lady in the $53,346 Loto Perfecta final at Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal. The win increased the 2-year-old Meadow Skipper filly's earnings this season to $96,280.
HOCKEY—WHA: Change is the name of the game in the new league. Hoping to attract larger crowds and better players this year, New York changed its name from the Raiders to the Golden Blades. Unfortunately, last season's Eastern Division cellar team went winless in its first four games. The Alberta Oilers of the Western Division did not change their name, just their address—to Edmonton—and that did help. The relocated Oilers, behind the steady scoring of Jim Harrison, shared the first week divisional lead with the Minnesota Saints. The Blazers had moved, too—from Philadelphia to Vancouver, from the Eastern Division to the Western. The Ottawa Nationals changed everything and became the Toronto Toros—and last in the East. Proving that some things never change: the leaders in the East were New England and Cleveland. The Whalers of New England won the WHA title last year, but it wasn't easy. After one game, for instance, naked Whalers fought with Winnipeg fans outside the dressing room. Fully clothed, New England has won three of four so far this year.
NHL: Though not as colorful as the Whalers, New England's own Boston Bruins were as effective. With Bobby Orr back and Phil Esposito healthy again, the Bruins won three, forming an undefeated triumvirate with the New York Rangers (2-0-1) and Montreal (2-0). In the West, Philadelphia, the club given the best chance to depose Chicago, got off to a flying 3-0 start, with California in second.
HORSE RACING—The winners of the $184,750 Champagne Stakes, split for the first time in its 102-year history, were HOLDING PATTERN ($12) and PROTAGONIST ($7.40) on closing day at Belmont. Holding Pattern, ridden by Mike Miceli, withstood a foul claim in his 5½-length victory over Green Gambados in the first division. In the second division Angel Santiago guided Protagonist between horses in the final 70 yards to beat Prince of Reason by a neck.
Secretariat ($3), Ron Turcotte up and racing on grass for the first time, rebounded to win the $113,600 Man o' War stakes by five lengths over Tentam, setting a Belmont turf course record of 2:24[4/5] for the 1½ miles.
Alma North ($12.80) led all the way to win Atlantic City's $100,000 Matchmaker Stakes for fillies and mares by 1¼ lengths over Light Hearted. The 5-year-old mare, disqualified after winning the Stakes last year, was ridden by Frank Lovato and equaled the track record of 1:55[1/5] for the 1[3/16] miles.
MOTOR SPORTS—MARK DONOHUE drove away from the field to win not only the Monterey-Castrol Grand Prix at Laguna Seca Raceway but also the 1973 Can-Am Challenge Cup series.
TENNIS—ILIE NASTASE defeated Spain's Manuel Orantes 2-6, 6-1, 8-6, 6-4 to win the Spanish Open and $17,241 in Barcelona.
Ken Rosewall upset John Newcombe 6-1, 6-4 to win the $60,000 Tokyo Open and EVONNE GOOLAGONG won $5,000 and the women's round-robin final over Helga Masthoff 7-6, 6-3.
MILEPOSTS—BANNED: The practice of soaking bowling balls in chemical solutions to soften their outer shells and make possible a sharper hook (SI, Sept. 17), by the Professional Bowlers Association.
HIRED: RALPH HOUK, 54, as manager of the Detroit Tigers, 11 days after he resigned from the New York Yankees, at an estimated $75,000 a year for three years, the longest and highest-paying managerial contract ever given by the Tigers.
RESTORED: By the AAU, JIM THORPE'S amateur status for the period 1909-1912. Thorpe was stripped of the two gold medals he won in the 1912 Olympics by the International Olympic Committee, which ruled he was actually a professional. The U.S. Olympic Committee can now intercede on Thorpe's behalf with the IOC.
RETIRED: World auto racing champion JACKIE STEWART, 34, eight days after his friend and teammate Fran√ßois Cevert was killed in a crash at Watkins Glen. Stewart, who held the world title three times, won a record 27 Grand Prix races over 10 years. He named Jody Scheckter as his successor on the Tyrrell-Ford team.