PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: The tightest division race was in the Midwest, where Chicago held a two-game lead over Kansas City-Omaha, which clinched at least a wild-card spot in the playoffs. The Bulls lost three and won one while the Kings were 2-3, despite Nate Archibald averaging 34.6 in the five games. Third-place Detroit was 3-1, with Curtis Rowe hitting a season-high of 26 in a 110-107 victory over Portland. Central leader Washington played one game, a 94-91 loss to Buffalo. Houston inched into second, ahead of Cleveland, with a 2-2 mark. The Cavaliers (2-3) played before their largest home crowd ever (18,911) in a 89-84 loss to Boston, but beat the Bulls 86-83 for their first win ever in Chicago. Atlantic king Boston won six in a row before losing to the second-place Braves 102-96. Buffalo was undefeated in four games, while the New York Knicks (1-2) remained alive in the wild-card race. Philadelphia eliminated themselves from the playoffs with three losses. Pacific leader Golden State was 3-1, Seattle 2-1; the SuperSonics' loss to Phoenix halted the Suns' 10-game losing streak. Laker Gail Goodrich hit a career-high 53 points in a 114-103 win over the Kings.
ABA: New Yorkers were shaking their heads as the Nets dropped four games in a row and Kentucky won five straight to come within half a game of the Eastern leaders. At the end of the week the Colonels beat New York 126-95 in a fight-marred game which saw Nets Willie Sojourner and Wendell Ladner square off against Kentucky's Dan Issel. Virginia continued to amass the worst record in pro basketball (15-65) with another four losses, while Memphis was 2-3 for the week, including all 1-106 defeat of the Nets. The Spirits of St. Louis were 2-2, despite Marvin Barnes averaging 33 points on the week. Life was more sedate in the West, where Denver held a 13½-game lead over San Antonio. The Nuggets took four games, including their fourth in a row over the Nets, 114-111, and a 121-109 pasting of Utah, in which eight Nuggets scored in double figures. The Spurs won three games, setting a club record for most wins (49). The Stars were 2-3 and San Diego 0-3. Indiana was 3-2, with George McGinnis scoring 44 in a 117-112 defeat of Utah.
BOXING—MUHAMMAD Ali retained his world heavyweight title, with a 15th-round TKO over Chuck Wepner in Cleveland.
Ken Norton stopped Jerry Quarry on a TKO in the fifth round of their heavyweight bout at Madison Square Garden. After the fight, Quarry, 29, announced his retirement; he compiled a 49-8-4 record in 10 years.
Jose Napoles retained his world welterweight title with a 12th-round technical win; the fight was stopped because of butting by Armando Muniz.
CREW—CAMBRIDGE bested Oxford by 3¾ lengths with a time of 19:27 to take the 121st annual race on the Thames, outside London.
GOLF—JACK NICKLAUS won the $40,000 first prize in the Heritage Classic on Hilton Head Island, S.C., firing a three-under-par 68 in the final round for a 13-under 271 and a three-stroke edge over Tom Weiskopf (page 22).
Shooting a final-round four-under-par 68, JANE BLALOCK carded a 209 to win the $70,000 LPGA Classic in Scottsdale, Ariz. by one stroke over JoAnne Carner. Blalock, who birdied four of the first five holes on the last day, earned $10,000.
HOCKEY—NHL: Buffalo clinched first place in the Adams with a 9-4 win over California, and promptly dropped its next two games. Nevertheless, the Sabres had lost only three of their last 13. Boston was 0-2-1, Toronto was 1-0-2 and the Seals dropped all four of their contests. Norris leader Montreal had a 1-2-1 week. In a 4-1 defeat of Kansas City, Canadien Winger Guy Lafleur became the third player in the club's history to score 50 goals in one season, joining the distinguished company of Maurice Richard and Bernie Geoffrion. Pittsburgh had two wins, defeating the Canadiens 6-4 and stopping Detroit 4-2. Detroit was 0-2-1, while Washington halted its road loss streak at 37, thanks to a 5-3 defeat of the Seals. Two nights earlier, the Capitals had set a new NHL record by losing 17 straight, not to mention the NHL record for most season losses. In a tight Smythe, Vancouver (1-1-2) was in first by two points over Chicago (1-1-1) and St. Louis (2-0-1). Philadelphia, which has clinched the Patrick, recorded its 10th game in a row without a loss by beating Chicago 5-2. The New York Islanders moved into second past the Rangers by tying two and downing the Rangers 6-4, while the Rangers went 1-2. Atlanta (3-0) won its fifth straight to pull within four points of the Rangers.
WHA: The only undecided division was the Canadian, where Quebec and Toronto were tied. The Nordiques did not help their cause by losing their sixth and seventh straight, one a 5-4 overtime decision to the Toros. In contrast, Toronto's offense, second only to Houston's in goals scored (330), earned three victories despite the Toros' giving up four goals in each game. Winnipeg won three and lost to Houston 8-0, while Edmonton was 1-3-1 and Vancouver 0-4. In the West, where Houston already has clinched the division title, Aero Gordie Howe registered his 2,000th career point in an 8-0 conquest of Winnipeg. The Aeros also defeated Minnesota but dropped an earlier contest to Phoenix 2-1. San Diego was impressive with live victories. The Minnesota Fighting Saints won three in a row before tying Phoenix and then bowing to Houston 8-2. New England, which locked up the East two weeks ago, went 2-1, while Cleveland was 2-1 and Chicago 0-3, eliminating the Cougars from the playoffs. Indianapolis lost four, including a 5-2 defeat by San Diego before the largest crowd (13,958) in Racer history.
HORSE RACING—In a pair of 1‚⅛-mile Kentucky Derby warmups (page 24), PRINCE THOU ART ($8), ridden by Braulio Baeza, was clocked in 1:50⅖ as he captured the $157,400 Florida Derby by 3¼ lengths over Sylvan Place at Gulfstream Park, while AVATAR ($12.80), Jorge Tejeira up, won the $127,900 Santa Anita Derby by a nose over Rock of Ages in Arcadia, Calif. The winner's time: 1:40[3/5]. Prerace favorites Foolish Pleasure and Diablo were both third.
SWIMMING—USC won its second straight NCAA championship, sophomore JOHN NABER setting the pace with three American records (page 69).
TENNIS—VIRGINIA WADE of Great Britain won her second title in two weeks, defeating Chris Evert 7-5, 6-4 in the $75,000 Virginia Slims of Philadelphia tournament. Wade earned $15,000.
Ken Rosewall of Australia won $10,000 by defeating upset-minded Butch Buchholz 7-5, 4-6, 7-6 in the finals of the $35,000 South Invitational tournament in Jackson, Miss.
TRACK & FIELD—DAVE ROBERTS, a graduate student at the University of Florida, who failed to make the U.S. Olympic team three years ago, set a world record in the pole vault, clearing 18'6½" in the Florida Relays in Gainesville. The previous record of 18'5¾" was held by Bob Seagren. High school junior HOUSTON McTEAR of Baker, Fla. equaled the national interscholastic record of 9.3 in the 100-yard dash.
Julie Brown of UCLA set two women's world records in winning the 10,000-meter run at the Southern Pacific AAU championships in Valencia, Calif. En route to her mark of 35:00.4 in the 10,000, Brown was timed in a record 33:52.8 for six miles.
MILEPOSTS—RESIGNED: JOE RAMSEY, as head basketball coach at the University of Oklahoma, where his two-year record was 31-21.
DIED: WILLIE RITCHIE, 84, world lightweight champion (1912-14) and member of Boxing's Hall of Fame; in Burlingame, Calif. Ritchie, whose real name was Gerhardt Steffen, ended his career in 1927 with a record of 36 wins, 22 non-decisions, four draws and nine losses.