PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: It was beginning to look as if Milwaukee would never lose again, and Buck Guard Oscar Robertson was speaking about losing streaks with the contempt bred of unfamiliarity: "Three [losses] in a row. That would be a long one for us—a disaster." Then Boston ended Milwaukee's 13-game winning skein 105-90 as Dave Cowens played like a man possessed, scoring 26 points, collecting 20 rebounds and neutralizing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in the fourth quarter. Next, New York shot down the Bucks 100-93 for the 13th time in 14 meetings there in Madison Square Garden. The Knicks' magical mystery man, Willis Reed, who had been sidelined for two weeks with a twisted knee, played Jabbar to a standoff and scored 22 points himself. And presto!—the Bucks were one loss short of disaster. Chicago, which had a win streak of 12 itself, followed suit, dropping two straight, to Phoenix 116-108 and Los Angeles 118-102 to remain a respectful second to the Bucks in the Midwest. Elvin Hayes had 43 points and 32 rebounds as Capital won a shootout with Atlanta 115-109 to take the lead in the Central Division. Boston spoiled Coach Bill Russell's return to Beantown by beating Seattle 110-104 and led the Knicks (3-0) by lots in the Atlantic. Out West, Los Angeles beat Phoenix 130-110 and stayed comfortably ahead of Golden State (1-1), which lost Clyde Lee on an injury.
ABA: Carolina continued its hex over Kentucky by beating the Colonels again, this time 107-102 to move within percentage points of the Eastern Division leaders. Kentucky has lost only three times this year—all to the Cougars—and Carolina gained further momentum with wins over Virginia, New York and Utah. The scoring of Billy Cunningham and the defensive prowess of Joe Caldwell were keys to the Cougar thrust. Kentucky meanwhile rallied to down Indiana 100-96. New York had a stormy week, losing one game (to Carolina 118-100), two fights and innumerable arguments but also rallying to win three games under the leadership of rookie Guard John Williamson, who scored 15 and 25 in wins in San Antonio 106-94 and Memphis 108-92. Julius Erving regained his shooting touch with a 33-point effort as the Nets beat Virginia 115-97. In the Western Division, Indiana's loss to Kentucky was its ninth in 17 games. Denver won three straight and soared past Utah (1-2) into the division lead on the scoring of Ralph Simpson (66 points in two games).
PRO FOOTBALL—That near-forgotten quarterback, Joe Namath, returned to the NEW YORK lineup with less than 5:00 left in the game and CINCINNATI up by 20-14 and came within six inches of leading the Jets to victory. But a supreme Cincinnati defense stopped the Jets' 78-yard drive inside the one as time ran out. Touchdowns by rookies Boobie Clark and Isaac Curtis and two Horst Muhlmann field goals kept Bengal divisional hopes alive as DENVER toppled PITTSBURGH 23-13 (page 30). CLEVELAND remained ahead of Cincinnati and moved up on the Steelers with an impressive defensive display in a 7-3 decision over OAKLAND, scoring on Mike Phipps' seven-yard pass to Fair Hooker. Jim Plunkett rallied NEW ENGLAND to a 33-24 win over GREEN BAY, completing 18 of 32 passes for 348 yards and two touchdowns, mostly in the second half. The Packers dropped to third in their division when DETROIT roared by CHICAGO 30-7 on two Bill Munson-to-Larry Walton touchdown passes and the longest touchdown of the season off an interception, a 95-yarder by Defensive Back Dick Jauron. WASHINGTON, playing under allegations of drug misuse, got high on five Curt Knight field goals and beat punchless BALTIMORE 22-14 to remain tied with DALLAS for the divisional lead. The Cowboys, meanwhile, stomped PHILADELPHIA 31-10 behind a gritty two-touchdown performance by Fullback Walt Garrison. At the bottom of the NFC East, NEW YORK beat ST. LOUIS 24-13 to break its seven-game losing streak.
Miami clinched its third straight divisional title, stifling BUFFALO 17-0. The Bills could find solace in Jim Braxton's 119 yards rushing and O. J. Simpson's 120-yard day. But Larry Csonka and Paul Warfield, who scored for Miami, were of no comfort at all. KANSAS CITY finally scored some points in bunches, beating HOUSTON 38-14 and moving into sole possession of first in the AFC West. SAN DIEGO won one for new Coach Ron Waller, 17-14 over NEW ORLEANS, but remained in safe possession of the divisional cellar. The LOS ANGELES aerial circus show of John Hadl and Harold Jackson accounted for three touchdowns in the Rams' 31-13 romp over SAN FRANCISCO and maintained a narrow lead over Atlanta in the NFC West.
HOCKEY—NHL: The two-man team of Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr gained a third part, Andre Savard, as Boston opened a six-point lead in the East Division. Savard, a native of Quebec, returned to his home province and scored a breakaway goal in the third period to help the Bruins beat Montreal 4-3 on Wednesday. In Boston's 10-2 rout of New York, in which Orr had three goals and four assists, Savard scored twice. Then the rookie forward closed out his most prolific NHL week with two more goals and an assist as the Bruins ended Detroit's modest three-game win streak under Alex Delvecchio with an 8-0 shellacking. In that game Phil Esposito scored his 20th goal in 18 games. Toronto squeezed into second place by virtue of a 4-3 come-from-behind victory over Los Angeles, while Montreal lost three in a row before bombing Buffalo 8-5. The Rangers displayed the inconsistency that has plagued them all year, losing by eight to Boston, then winning by a 6-3 margin over Minnesota, which moved them to fifth behind Buffalo (1-1) in the East. Philadelphia gained a five-point hold on the West Division with three wins and a tie. Chicago went into second and St. Louis began to look rosy again, winning its seventh game in eight starts, 4-0 over the New York Islanders. Garry Unger was the brightest Blue with five goals in three games.
WHA: West leader Edmonton set a league record, winning its 11th in a row, a 4-0 triumph over Los Angeles, on two goals by the WHA's second leading scorer, Ron Climie. The Oilers were not allowed to revel in their glory for long. Winnipeg, which had held the previous record of 10 straight wins, beat them 3-1 as Jet Player-Coach Bobby Hull, dormant most of this year, exploded for two third-period goals. The win lifted the Jets into second place behind Edmonton. Houston won two of three, the last 3-2 on a goal and an assist by old Gordie Howe over financially and athletically bereft New York. In the East, New England and Quebec traded victories: the Whalers won first 5-3, then the Nordiques humiliated the WHA champions 10-4, but still trailed by two points. Chicago moved into a second-place tie with Quebec by beating Toronto 5-2.
HORSE RACING—LUCKY BOY III ($18.40), ridden by Clay Brittle, won the fourth $50,000 Colonial Cup steeplechase in Camden, S.C by a nose over last year's winner Scott's Soothsayer, with Green Magic one quarter of a length back after 18 jumps over the two-mile, 6½ furlongs at the Springdale Course.
TENNIS—TOM OKKER scored his fourth victory in six matches over Ilie Nastase to win $7,500 and the final of the Dewar Cup Grand Prix 6-3, 6-4 in London. VIRGINIA WADE won a 6-2, 3-6, 7-5 decision over Julie Heldman in the women's final.
MILEPOSTS—ANNOUNCED: By the American League, the retirement of Umpires JAMES HONOCHICK, 56, JOHN FLAHERTY, 55, FRANK UMONT, 56, and JOHN RICE, 55, who served an average of 21¼ years in the major leagues. Umont reacted, "They call it retire, but it sounds like fire to me."
MARRIED: HENRY AARON, 39, to Billye Williams, 36, an Atlanta TV talk-show hostess, at University of the West Indies, in Kingston, Jamaica.
NAMED: As MVP in the American League, REGGIE JACKSON of the World Champion Oakland A's, by a unanimous vote (only the sixth player in 52 years to earn such acclamation) of the Baseball Writers Association. Jackson batted .293 and led the league with 32 home runs and 117 RBIs.
NAMED: JOHN HILLER, Detroit Tiger relief pitcher, as winner of the Hutch Award, given to the player who best exemplifies the competitive spirit of Fred Hutchinson, former major league pitcher and manager who died of cancer nine years ago. Hiller came back from a 1971 heart attack to set a major league mark of 38 saves in 1973 and had a 10-5 record and a 1.44 ERA.
DIED: A. PATRICK (Paddy) SMITHWICK, 46, the nation's top steeplechase rider in 1956, '57, '58 and 1962, in Baltimore after a long illness. He had retired in 1966, ending a 20-year career in which he had 2,500 mounts, 500 winners and purse earnings of about $2 million.
DIED: LLOYD MANGRUM, 59, a member of golf's "Big Three" with Ben Hogan and Sam Snead in the 1940s and '50s, of a heart attack in Apple Valley, Calif. The PGA Hall of Famer won 37 major tournaments, capturing 11 in 1948 and was the leading money-winner in 1951.
DIED: JOHN (Honey) RUSSELL, 70, whose Seton Hall basketball teams had compiled a 294-137 won-loss record between 1936 and 1961, of a heart attack in South Orange, N.J. Russell also served as the first coach of the NBA Boston Celtics in 1946-47 and was selected for the Basketball Hall of Fame in 1964.