PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Push came to shove in good old playoff fashion: in the Boston-Buffalo series, Braves' Coach Jack Ramsay called for an end to the "physical mayhem" after a 120-107 Celtic victory gave Boston a 2-1 lead. John Havlicek was the most physical of the Celts with 43 points. Buffalo rallied at home to even the series, 104-102, on Jim McMillian's tip-in with one second left, while earlier Bob McAdoo had kept the Braves in the game with his 44-point shooting spree. The other Eastern semifinal between New York and Capital saw Knick Guard Walt Frazier pushed around with boos from his own fans. Frazier responded by pumping in 38 points in a 106-105 win at home to give the Knicks a 3-2 edge (page 24). In the Western Conference semifinal between Milwaukee and Los Angeles, the Bucks outmuscled, outhustled and outscored the Lakers 109-90, 112-90 and 114-92 to wrap up the series 4-1. The Lakers did save face with a narrow 98-96 third-game win at home when Elmore Smith (30 points, 17 rebounds) won the battle of the big men with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (29 points, 15 rebounds). In the Chicago-Detroit series, the Bulls also proved to be masters of mayhem with back-to-back 108-103 and 84-83 wins. Aggressive defense by Guard Jerry Sloan and Center Dennis Awtrey, who helped hold Bob Lanier to 19 points in the third game, gave Chicago the series lead at 2-1. But the Pistons, whose inexperience had cost them dearly, rebounded behind Lanier's 26 points and 18 rebounds to win 102-87 at home.
ABA: Different league, same game: elbows flew and tempers flared before Indiana gained a 3-2 series lead over San Antonio in the roughest and closest matchup. The Pacers' George McGinnis, victim of a Coby Dietrick elbow in a 115-96 Indiana loss in game three, threw his own weight around to win the fourth 91-89 on a 20-foot jumper with four seconds to go. In game five Guards Billy Keller and Freddie Lewis combined for 26 fourth-quarter points to give the Pacers a 105-100 win. In the other West semifinal, gritty San Diego edged past Utah 97-96 and 100-98 on Dwight Lamar's 54 points to even the series at 2-2. But Lamar ran out of ammunition in game five and the Stars remembered they were division titlists, blasting the Qs 110-93 and moving ahead three games to two at week's end. In the East semifinals Kentucky lost its home-court advantage to Carolina when tornados damaged the roof of Louisville's Freedom Hall, but the Colonels weren't shaken. They blew by the Cougars 118-102, 99-96 and 120-110 for a 3-0 lead. Meanwhile, New York whipped Virginia 116-88 to go up 3-1 in their playoff confrontation, but not before the Hex of Hampton Roads had worked a whammy on Net hopes for a sweep, 116-115.
BOWLING—EARL ANTHONY of Tacoma, Wash. won Akron's $125,000 Firestone Tournament of Champions and $25,000, defeating Johnny Petraglia of Brooklyn 216-213 (page 92).
DIVING—JANET ELY of Dallas added a gold medal in the 10-meter platform event to her second in the one-meter and fifth place in the three-meter to capture the women's high-point championship at the National AAU Indoors in Dallas. TIM MOORE of Ohio State earned the men's high-point title by winning the one-meter event, finishing second in the three-meter and third in the 10-meter.
GOLF—BOB CHARLES of New Zealand fired a pressure-packed 68 on the final round and finished with a 14-under-par 270 to win the $220,000 Greater Greensboro (N.C.) Open. Charles, who earned $44,066 for his first American win since 1967, edged Ray Floyd and Lee Trevino by one stroke.
GYMNASTICS—STEVE HUG of Stanford became the first man since Illinois' Joe Giallombardo (1938-40) to win three straight all-round NCAA titles, scoring 108.95 to nip Doug Fitzjarrell of Iowa State by .90 at the meet in University Park, Pa.
HIGH DIVING—PAT SOUCHER, 24, of Miami, JOHN TOBLER, 28, of Minneapolis and DONNY ZICK, 22, of Dallas broke the 1968 world record of 129 feet 6 inches by diving from 133 feet into a 15-feet deep pool at Cypress Gardens, Fla., with Soucher taking the $5,000 top prize for the best dive from that height, a first-ever double somersault with a half twist.
HOCKEY—NHL: After skating in the shadow of highflying Philadelphia most of the year, Chicago did some soaring on its own. The Black Hawks blew by Boston 6-2 when Pit Martin scored twice within 17 seconds of the third period, then extended their unbeaten string to seven games against St. Louis, 6-3. When the Blues got pesty with three goals in the final period, Hawk Goalie Tony Esposito replaced sub Mike Veisor to preserve their joint lead in the Vezina Trophy race for fewest goals allowed. But despite a 7-4 last game triumph over Detroit, Tony had to settle for a tie with Philadelphia for the coveted award (page 26). Los Angeles downed Atlanta 4-2 to capture third place, dropped a 5-2 decision to Vancouver, then bombed the lowly Canucks 11-1 to finish the year with a club-record 33 wins. Meanwhile Atlanta bounced back to hand California its 12th game without a win and 55th of the year. In the East, second-place Montreal knocked Boston's division crown askew 6-2 in Montreal as Frank Mahovlich logged his 14th career hat trick. Third-place New York beat Detroit 5-3, then slumped to the Red Wings 8-3 but finished with a 6-4 winover Montreal in a preview of their first-round playoff series. Toronto, after beating Montreal 5-3 on Wednesday, dropped its playoff preview 6-4 to Boston in the season finale for both teams.
WHA: The Chicago Cougars, who had prowled the nether reaches of the East much of the year, pounced on New Jersey 7-3 in their second-to-last game to claw a playoff berth away from Quebec. The Nordiques had lost their season finale to divisional titlist New England 3-2 in overtime while waiting for Chicago to finish. But all that Cougar success proved fleeting. Chicago dropped its last game to Houston 3-1 and its first playoff contest to New England 6-4. Second-place Toronto and third-place Cleveland entered their postseason matchup with season-ending wins over Edmonton 3-2 and New Jersey 4-2. The Toros then dealt the Crusaders their first playoff loss 4-0 in the opener in Toronto. Out West, Minnesota's Mike Walton stayed hot with three goals in the Saints' 5-2 and 9-0 defeats of Houston and Vancouver. Then, just to prove that the playoffs were no different, Walton scored the winning goal in Minnesota's 2-1 series opener with Edmonton. West winner Houston and fourth-place Winnipeg anticipated their playoff series in diverse styles: the Aeros beat Chicago; the Jets lost to Vancouver.
HORSE RACING—MIGUEL RIVERA rode both his mounts to victory in the two divisions of the one-mile, $91,650 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. In the first, STONEWALK ($9.40) defeated Sigmund Sommer's L'Amour Rullah by three lengths, with the favorite, Hudson County, fourth. Then RUBE THE GREAT ($37.40) finished 4½ lengths ahead of Hosiery as the favored Protagonist ran last.
TRUE KNIGHT ($4.60), ridden by Angel Cordero Jr., caught favored Prove Out in the stretch to win the $109,650 Trenton Handicap over 1¼ miles by ¾ of a length at Garden State Park.
J.R.'s PET ($7.20), with Darrel McHargue up, blew by Silver Florin in the stretch to win the $144,850 Arkansas Derby over 1‚⅛ miles at Oaklawn Park.
MOTOR SPORTS—BOBBY UNSER, driving an Eagle Offenhauser at an average 125.618 mph, won the Trenton (N.J.) 200 by nearly a lap over Gordon Johncock. The race ended with only four cars running.
David Pearson wheeled his Mercury to a six-second victory over Bobby Allison in the Rebel 500 at Darlington, N.C., averaging 117.543 mph for the $16,075 first prize.
SKIING—Ex-Austrian HUGO NINDL, now of Hunter, N.Y., added the season point-winner's $50,000 bonus to his $89,200 earnings for the year as the Benson & Hedges pro tour closed at Aspen.
TENNIS—FREW McMILLAN of South Africa downed Nikki Pilic 5-7, 7-6, 7-6 to win the WCT Red Group tournament in Munich, gaining the $10,000 first prize.
MILEPOSTS—NAMED: As Associated Press college basketball player of the year, DAVID THOMPSON, of NCAA champion North Carolina State, joining his coach, Norm Sloan, the AP's Coach of the Year.
DIED: GERARD S. SMITH, 70, star of the Brooklyn Riding and Driving Club's undefeated polo team that won the National Open Indoor title in 1927, '28 and '29; after a brief illness; in Norwalk, Conn. Smith, also a member of the Jockey Club and the NYRA board of trustees, once had a nine-goal rating in indoor polo.
DIED: FRED SNODGRASS, 86, outfielder for the New York Giants between 1908 and 1915, best remembered for muffing an easy fly ball that cost the Giants the 1912 World Series; in Ventura, Calif.