PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Guard Phil Smith scored a resounding 51 points—the league high this season as well as a personal record—as Golden State overpowered Phoenix 129-113. The 6'4" second-year man connected on 20 of 27 shots (including eight of eight in the third quarter). The victory increased the Warriors' Pacific Division lead to 7½ games over new second-place tenant Seattle. Los Angeles suffered three losses in one evening: 1) a 109-106 defeat by Philadelphia; 2) the banishment of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to the locker room for throwing a ball in the direction of an official; and 3) second place in the division. Seattle's Slick Watts directed the Sonics' offense, scoring 18 points in a 91-89 defeat of New York and 20 in Seattle's 112-110 overtime victory against Phoenix, which dropped the Lakers, losers in seven of their last eight games, into third. Detroit Center Bob Lanier will be sidelined for at least three weeks after fracturing his left shoulder in a 104-100 defeat of Cleveland. Milwaukee's subsequent 102-95 drubbing of the weakened Pistons, who previously lost Guard Kevin Porter, moved the Bucks back atop the Midwest. Chicago won three times as former Brave Jack Marin tallied 16 points to help down Buffalo 107-100 and hit a 10-foot jumper at the final buzzer for a dramatic 98-97 win over Houston. Boston's 118-113 victory over Washington was its 14th win in 17 games and assured that the Celtics would retain first place in the Atlantic race, since Philadelphia lost to Cleveland for the first time this season 118-105. The Central race remains the tightest, with last-place New Orleans only 3½ games behind division-leading Washington. The Jazz won three in a row with Pete Maravich providing the scoring punch: 26 in a 104-98 defeat of Chicago; 37 to lead the Jazz in an 11-point, third-quarter comeback to win 107-97 over Kansas City, and 34 in a 104-99 defeat of Detroit.
ABA: With hot-tempered Coach Kevin Loughery temporarily banished, New York lost a 141-130 double-overtime decision to St. Louis despite Julius Erving's 49 points. Loughery's two-game suspension came after a week-opening 112-89 loss at Virginia in which he drew six technical fouls at $125 each. His fine totaled $1,750 after Commissioner Dave De-Busschere called him on the carpet for "unbecoming behavior." The news was cheerier in Denver, Marvin Webster, the first-place Nuggets' 7'1" draft pick, announcing his imminent return to practice after recovering from a liver ailment which kept him sidelined all season. San Antonio acquired Center-Forward Tom Owens from Indiana, and in a Spurs' 121-117 defeat of the Pacers, Owens scored five of his 18 points in the final 90 seconds. The next night Indiana snapped a seven-game losing streak as Darnell Hillman tallied 23 points in a 125-122 defeat of San Antonio. Another late arrival, Moses Malone, who has not played this season on account of an injured foot, announced his intention to join St. Louis after shunning an NBA draft by New Orleans. Earlier in the week St. Louis defeated Indiana 114-112 in overtime as Freddie Lewis, held to only two points in the first half, exploded for a total of 26, including seven in the extra period.
BOXING—No. 1 ranked heavyweight contender KEN NORTON defeated Pedro Lovell of Argentina in a fifth-round TKO in Las Vegas.
GOLF—JOHNNY MILLER won the Tucson Open for the third year in a row, shooting a 14-under-par 274 to defeat Howard Twitty by three strokes.
EXHIBITION HOCKEY—Philadelphia defeated the Soviet Central Army team 4-1 in the finals of the Soviet tour (page 18). Earlier the visitors had beaten Boston 5-2 while another Soviet club, the Wings, downed Chicago 4-2 and the Islanders 2-1 to give the Russian teams a 5-2-1 record.
PRO HOCKEY—NHL: Nothing worked for the Rangers. Their trade for Boston's Phil Esposito resulted in the longest goal-scoring drought of his NHL career (zero in 11 games), and the team defense became porous, notably in a 5-2 loss to St. Louis in which New York gave up the puck numerous times in the defensive zone. Before that loss General Manager Emile Francis was fired. Replacement John Ferguson became the youngest GM in the league at 37, and his first decision was to appoint himself coach. Out went Ron Stewart, the third Ranger coach to complete less than half a season. In Ferguson's first game, an 8-4 defeat of Kansas City, Esposito found the net twice and assisted on one other score. Division-leading Philadelphia is still 26 points ahead of the last-place Rangers in the Patrick—and Bobby Clarke boosted his league scoring lead with two goals and an assist in the Flyers' fifth straight victory, 6-4 over Los Angeles. St. Louis also changed coaches, Leo Boivin becoming the Blues' ninth pilot in as many years. His first two games produced victories to keep the Blues in third place in the Smythe Division, 13 points behind Chicago. Montreal strengthened its Norris Division lead as Guy Lafleur scored a hat trick in a 7-1 defeat of Detroit and added a goal and an assist in a 2-1 win over Minnesota to increase his season total to 26 goals. Washington's nonwinning streak hit 20 games with a 5-0 loss to California, the Capitals suffering their fourth shutout in seven games. Two early-week wins for Buffalo moved the Sabres into a tie with idle Boston. Buffalo's Rick Martin recorded his fifth hat trick of the season in a 4-2 downing of Montreal and Gil Perreault added three goals in an 8-5 victory over Vancouver. When Boston resumed play Johnny Bucyk recorded his 500th goal as a Bruin in a 3-2 defeat of California as his team regained the top of the Adams Division.
WHA: Fighting back from a four-goal deficit, Minnesota managed a 7-6 overtime defeat of Phoenix but was less fierce against the division-leading Aeros, losing 4-1 as Houston extended its winning streak to four games. Ottawa dropped its home debut 3-2 to New England. In the Canadian Division, Quebec played only once, beating San Diego 4-3 in overtime to stay within four points of leader Winnipeg, whose second loss of the week came in overtime against Indianapolis 2-1. In the only Jets win, an 8-2 defeat of Toronto, Ulf Nilsson had a hat trick and two assists while Anders Hedberg registered his 29th and 30th goals. Edmonton moved farther in front of Toronto. Norm Ullman scored twice and assisted twice in a 5-3 Oiler win over the Toros. A 3-0 shutout of Indianapolis had ended a nine-game Oiler losing streak. New England increased its East lead when Cincinnati lost 7-3 to Houston.
SKATING—DOROTHY HAMILL won her third-straight women's title at the U.S. championships in Colorado Springs, Colo, (page 24), which also served as the Olympic Trials. CHARLIE TICKNER took the men's title; TAI BABILONIA and RANDY GARDNER won the senior pairs, and COLLEEN O'CONNOR and JIM MULLINS retained their senior dance championship.
Olympians LEAH POULOS AND SHEILA YOUNG won the 500- and 1,000-meter sprints at an international meet in Davos, with Young's 1:26.04 in the 1,000 breaking her U.S. record by 6.99 of a second.
SKIING—The World Cup circuit moved to Wengen, Switzerland, where Austria's FRANZ KLAMMER won the Lauberhorn Downhill Classic and INGE-MARK STENMARK of Sweden took the slalom. In women's racing at Meiringen, BERNADETTE ZURBRIGGEN of Switzerland claimed her second downhill victory of the season and Austria's MONIKA KASERER won the giant slalom.
TENNIS—ARTHUR ASHE defeated Andrew Patti-son of Rhodesia 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 in Columbus, Ohio to win the opening tournament on the 1976 World Championship tour.
Chris Evert beat Evonne Goolagong 6-3, 7-6 at Austin, Texas to win $50,000 and her second consecutive L'eggs title.
The top-seeded team of DICK STOCKTON and ROSIE CASALS defeated Mark Cox and Virginia Wade of Britain 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to win the $80,000 Spalding World Mixed Doubles in Dallas.
TRACK & FIELD—DAN RIPLEY of the Pacific Coast Club vaulted 18'1¼" to set a world amateur indoor record at the National Invitation meet in College Park, Md. (page 56).
Eugen Ray, an 18-year-old East German, ran the 100-meter dash in 10.21 seconds for a world indoor record at a meet in East Berlin.
Emile Puttemans of Belgium bettered his own world indoor three-mile and 5,000-meter records in Paris, recording a 12:54.6 in the former race to lower the previous mark by 4.4 seconds, and a 13:20.8 in the latter to cut 3.8 seconds off his old record.
MILEPOSTS—HIRED: LEO DUROCHER, 71, to manage the Taiheiyo Lions in Fukuoka, Japan, at a reported six-figure salary that would make him "the highest-paid baseball manager anywhere."
PURCHASED: The ATLANTA BRAVES, by Ted Turner, 37, yachtsman and communications executive, for a reported $10 to $12 million.
SOLD: The SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS, for $13.25 million, to a Toronto group headed by Labatt Breweries, Ltd., pending approval by the National League.
DIED: ANCIL HOFFMAN, 91, manager of Heavyweight Champion Max Baer and his brother Buddy, a heavyweight contender; in Sacramento.