PRO BASKETBALL—ABA: After New York overpowered Memphis, Net chief Kevin Loughery allowed that "intangibles are what make a team win." Such coachly bromides aside, it was the very tangible 18 and 20 points contributed by Julius Erving and Larry Kenon that sparked the 121-91 win. Dr. J rolled on to average 30.3 points in the three Net victories that followed over Virginia 123-117, Carolina 125-108 and Kentucky 115-101. Mr. K added an even more tangible claim to his Rookie-of-the-Year aspirations with 22-, 21- and 25-point efforts. At week's end New York led Kentucky by 2½ games and Carolina by three in the East. Memphis finally snapped its 12-game losing streak at Virginia, 106-102, and went on to beat Denver 102-98 as Larry Finch and Randy Denton led a fourth-quarter comeback. In the West, Utah continued to make light of the division by winning three more, opening an 11½-game lead on San Antonio. The Spurs downed Denver 99-90 and Indiana 88-83 to climb over the Pacers into the second spot.
NBA: The Philadelphia 76ers won their first season series—3-1 against equally lowly Kansas City-Omaha. Not that it was easy—the 76ers needed Guard Fred Carter's 18-foot bank shot with 48 seconds left to secure the 92-89 victory. Carter might be accused of turning flourish into fetish: he also was Philadelphia's last-gasp savior five days earlier in a 95-94 win over Capital, hitting two jump shots in the final 15 seconds. And now the bad news—the 76ers were still last in the Atlantic Division, 23½ games off Boston's pace. New York seized two straight without the injured Dave DeBusschere and trailed Boston by 6½ games. Buffalo's Mutt and Jeff, 6' Guard Ernie DiGregorio (27 points) and 6'10" Bob McAdoo (34 points), scored baskets in the last 32 seconds to beat Detroit 118-116 and offset a season-high 45-point game by the Pistons' Bob Lanier. Buffalo held a 4½-game edge over Atlanta for the Eastern Conference wild-card berth in the playoffs. Central leader Capital rebounded from its loss to Philly with two wins and led Atlanta by 7½ games. Chicago beat Midwest nemesis Milwaukee twice in four days, 93-81 and 92-90, with Bob Love and Jerry Sloan complementing the Bulls' brutal defense with timely scoring. Chicago trailed the Bucks by two games at week's end. Golden State held a ½-game lead on Los Angeles in the Pacific.
BOWLING—LARRY LAUB of San Francisco swept the $85,000 U.S. Open at Madison Square Garden in New York, taking the $8,000 first prize by defeating Dave Davis of Atlanta 258-237.
CHESS—VIKTOR KORCHNOI of the U.S.S.R. defeated Henrique Mecking of Brazil 3-1 in Augusta to move into the semifinals of the world championship eliminations. In the only quarterfinal match still in progress, Lajos Portisch of Hungary defeated Russia's Tigran Petrosian in the 12th game to tie the score 2-2 at Palma de Majorca, Spain.
HOCKEY—NHL: The Los Angeles Kings, fighting to hold the fourth and last playoff spot in the West, met the Sabres in Buffalo—and lost it, 4-2. Buffalo Goalie Rocky Farr was hit with a $200 fine in the third period when the blade on his stick was discovered to be ‚⅛" too long, but even with regulation gear he held off the Kings the rest of the way. One night earlier Los Angeles had been victimized by another goaltender, Chicago's Tony Esposito, who stopped 42 shots as the Hawks whipped the Kings 4-0. And while L.A. thus tumbled out of the fourth place it had captured outright from Atlanta with a 6-3 win at the start of the week, Atlanta—behind the steady scoring of Larry Romanchych—rebounded to down the New York Islanders 4-1 and Montreal 3-2 to reclaim playoff rights, at least for this week. West leader Philadelphia beat Montreal and Toronto 3-1, then tied New York 4-4 and led Chicago by seven points. Atop the East, Boston won three. Phil Esposito cinched his fourth straight 100-point year with two assists in a 9-6 rout of California as the Bruins opened up a 12-point lead on Montreal and 18 on the New York Rangers.
WHA: The Toronto Toros experienced a bullish week. Three straight wins moved them back into second place in the East, just two points behind division pacesetter New England. Toro Winger Rick Sentes scored the decisive goal in a 5-4 comeback victory over New Jersey, then registered two goals and an assist in a 5-2 triumph over the Knights. New England handed Edmonton its sixth loss in a row, 7-3, as Oiler Goalie Chris Worthy allowed four first-period scores. Third-place Quebec won two of three, powered by the play of Serge Bernier (three goals, one assist), and was one point back of Toronto. Chicago, in fifth place, won two and pulled within two points of Cleveland for the last playoff spot in the East. Houston maintained its huge lead in the West as Gordie showed the league Howe it is done with four goals in three games. Minnesota's Fighting Saints whipped Winnipeg 7-1 for their ninth success in 11 games and swept past the Jets into second place. NHL transfer Mike Walton scored his third hat trick of the season.
MOTOR SPORTS—MARK DONOHUE, 1972 Indy winner, formally ended his driving career with a victory in the International Race of Champions final at Daytona Speedway. The 36-year-old Donohue, who wheeled one of six equal Porsche Carreras at an average 114.979 mph over the 93.94-mile run to beat runner-up Peter Revson, now becomes an executive in the Roger Penske racing stable.
SKIING—The hosts for the FIS World Nordic Championships at Falun, Sweden solved a warm-weather crisis by trucking in snow for the occasion—enough to enable East Germany's HANS GEORG ASCHENBACK to win the first gold medal, in the 70-meter jump.
SPEED SKATING—Norway's PER BJOERANG won the first 500-meter race and led the men's standings with 160.750 points at the world sprint championship in Innsbruck, Austria. Bjoerang's time of 38.95 seconds in the 500 beat American Dan Immerfall's by .35. ALEXANDER SAFRONOV of Russia won the 1,000-meter race in 1:22.52. Russia's TATIANA AVERINA won both the women's 500, in 43.70 seconds, and 1,000 (1:33.63) to top the standings with 90.515 points.
TRACK & FIELD—While BEN JIPCHO was making a successful pro debut in the ITA's first meet of the season at Nassau (N.Y.) Coliseum (page 20), amateur FRANCIE LARRIEU set a 4:12.2 world indoor record in the women's 1,500 meters at the Toronto Star-Maple Leaf Games. Larrieu topped the 1,500 mark of Russia's Tamara Pangelova by 2.1 seconds.
MILEPOSTS—BARRED: By the Milan Soccer Club, the traditional Italian custom of lacing after-dinner coffee with brandy—on Saturday nights only because the mixture might make the players "nervous" in Sunday league matches.
NAMED: To the Baseball Hall of Fame, JAMES (Cool Papa) BELL (SI, Aug. 20, 1973), by a special committee on Negro leagues. Bell was acclaimed the "Black Ty Cobb" because of his speed on the bases and the fact that he never hit below .308 during a career that ran from 1922 to 1950.
NAMED: As swimming coach at UCLA, effective next September, GEORGE HAINES, 49, who coached four U.S. Olympic swimming teams and also guided the Santa Clara Swimming Club for 23 years.
RESIGNED: As coach of the NHL St. Louis Blues, JEAN GUY TALBOT, citing health, family reasons and the team's slump. The Blues have managed only a tie in their last seven games. St. Louis Winger LOU ANGOTTI will step in as a nonplaying coach.
SIGNED: UCLA running back and long jumper JAMES McALISTER, with the International Track Association. McAlister had the best long jump last year among amateurs, 27'½".
DIED: JAMES A. (Buck) FREEMAN, 69, basketball tactician and coach of the St. John's "Wonder Teams" of 1927-36, which compiled 179 wins and 32 losses; in Columbia, S.C. Freeman had been an assistant to Frank McGuire, first at North Carolina where they produced the 1957 national champion, and then at South Carolina.