BOXING—SAENSAK MUANGSURIN of Thailand stopped Jo Kimpuani of Z‚Äö√†√∂¬¨√üire in the 14th round, his sixth successful defense of the WBC super-lightweight title in 1977.
PRO BASKETBALL—"This is the beginning of the second season," pronounced Laker Coach Jerry West. And indeed it seemed to be. Not only did the Lakers look like a different team, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar returning to form, but also by week's end it was a different team. Gone was the Laker black-eye, Kermit Washington. Gone was Don Chaney. Both went to Boston in exchange for Charlie Scott. Los Angeles, which now has only three of the 12 players who enabled the Lakers to achieve the NBA's best record last year, put together their longest winning streak of the season—three, including a 111-96 defeat of Seattle (page 81), which snapped the Sonics' five-game winning streak—and jumped from the Pacific cellar into third place. Although it will be some time before Washington can play for the Celtics—if at all this season—Chaney immediately gave his old team a lift, helping Boston snap a six-game losing streak and giving the Celtics their first win after 11 losses on the road, 124-115 at Milwaukee. New York was 3-0, including a cliffhanger against Atlantic leader Philadelphia in which Spencer Haywood—rumored to be on the trading block—rewarded Coach Willis Reed with a 27-point performance in the 113-110 win. In a 118-116 defeat of New Orleans, New York's Bob McAdoo tallied 33, the fifth straight in which he scored 30 or more points. The Knicks also beat the Nets 109-101, but Coach Kevin Loughery felt that victory was his. Against archrival and creditor New York, Loughery benched leading scorer Bernard King, who had missed practice the previous day. Discipline above winning, said Loughery. Denver, too, was 3-0 and took sole possession of first place in the Midwest. Chicago fell one game back after losing to Philadelphia 129-125 in overtime. But the Bulls continued to look strong. Wilbur Holland scored a career-high 36 points against Portland to pace Chicago to a 115-106 victory. In a nationally televised afternoon game on Christmas, the Cavs gave Cleveland a Yule gift, albeit short-lived. Their 111-105 win over Buffalo briefly put them in the Central lead. But then they lost to San Antonio and New Orleans—as Pete Maravich had a season-high 42 points—and to Houston, to finish the week in second place, two games back. Washington, which beat Atlanta on consecutive nights, was in first despite a 126-119 loss to the 76ers in which nine Sixer players scored in double figures for the first time in the history of the franchise.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—Notre Dame staked a strong claim to the national championship, handing the Texas Longhorns their first defeat, 38-10, in the Cotton Bowl (page 6); Arkansas trounced Oklahoma 31-6 in the Orange Bowl; unheralded Washington shocked Michigan 27-20 in the Rose Bowl; and Alabama rolled over Ohio State 35-6 in the Sugar Bowl. Matt Cavanaugh shattered Gator Bowl and Pitt records, completing 23 of 36 passes for 387 yards and four touchdowns to lead the Panthers to a 34-3 rout of Clemson. Guy Benjamin passed for 269 yards and three touchdowns, breaking a Sun Bowl passing record, to give Stanford a 24-14 victory over LSU. Johnny Evans threw two first-half scoring passes and ran 32 yards for a touchdown to pace North Carolina State to a 24-14 victory over Iowa State in the Peach Bowl. USC, the first Pac 8 team to play in the Bluebonnet Bowl, defeated Texas A&M 47-28.
PRO FOOTBALL—The M & M combination—Craig Morton to Haven Moses—gave Denver, a four-point underdog, its first AFC championship over defending champion Oakland 20-17; Dallas took the NFC title for the fourth time, routing Minnesota 23-6 (page 14).
HORSE RACING—J. O. TOBIN, the horse that beat Seattle Slew, won the $57,550 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, his first victory since defeating the Horse of the Year in the Swaps in July. Ridden by Steve Cauthen for the first time, the 4-year-old ran the seven furlongs in 1:23.
Chance Dancer ($3.40), Richard Culbertson up, won the $130,789 Arizona Paradise Futurity for 2-year-olds at Turf Paradise, Phoenix. The gelding covered the 6½ furlongs in 1:14[1/5] to equal the track record.
HOCKEY—NHL: As the schedule neared the halfway point, Chicago finally began to show signs that it is grasping new coach Bob Pulford's complicated forechecking system. The Black Hawks beat Atlanta 4-2 as rookie Wing Ted Bulley had two goals and two assists, and stopped Toronto 4-0 behind Goaltender Mike Veisor to extend their Smythe Division lead over second-place Vancouver to six points. Toronto also lost to Pittsburgh 5-4 when All-Star Defenseman Borje Salming made an errant pass in his own zone, which the Penguins' Blair Chapman converted into the winning score with just 32 seconds to play in the game. Minnesota's Pete LoPresti got a 1-0 shutout over St. Louis as Defenseman Tom Reid scored his first goal since Feb. 16, 1975. Reid did not exactly beat Blues' Goaltender Phil Myre with a spectacular move; he happened to be standing somewhat out of place, in front of Myre, as teammate Fred Barrett's shot came by and caromed off his knee, past Myre and into the net. Montreal rolled along with victories over Cleveland and Pittsburgh; Boston beat Washington and tied Cleveland; Philadelphia edged the New York Rangers 4-3 on Bobby Clarke's second goal of the game and routed Minnesota 5-2 as Rick MacLeish had the hat trick; and Buffalo had to settle for a 3-3 tie with Detroit when the Red Wings' Nick Libett blasted a 35-footer by Sabre Goaltender Don Edwards at 19:57 of the third period. The New York Islanders swept a pair on the Coast, beating Vancouver 4-2 and Los Angeles 4-3. In those wins Center Bryan Trottier had two goals and two assists to become the first player in two years to simultaneously lead the NHL in goals (27) and assists (34). Vancouver beat the Soviet Union's Spartak club 2-0 on Curt Ridley's shutout goaltending. Czechoslovakia's Kladno team was tied by the New York Rangers 4-4, while Czechoslovakia's Pardubice club lost to Philadelphia 6-1 and beat Minnesota 4-2.
WHA: New England extended its lead over Winnipeg to six points by routing Birmingham 8-1 and 6-2. The latter triumph was the Whalers' sixth straight over the Bulls this season. Edmonton fired 26 first-period shots at Quebec goaltenders in a 9-3 romp over the Nordiques. Winnipeg lost 7-5, 4-2 and 5-1 to the Soviet National team in Japan.
TENNIS—VITAS GERULAITIS, stricken with severe muscle cramps in the fourth set, rallied to defeat Britain's John Lloyd 6-3, 7-6, 5-7, 3-6, 6-2 and win the $275,000 Australian Open in Melbourne. YVONNE GOOLAGONG CAWLEY downed Helen Cawley (no relation) 6-3, 6-0 to take the women's title, her 20th straight match win in Australia this summer
MILEPOSTS—MARRIED: CHARLES SHIPMAN PAYSON, 79, majority stockholder in the New York Mets, and VIRGINIA KRAFT, 47, SPORTS ILLUSTRATED associate editor; each for the second time; in Falmouth Forcside, Maine.
NAMED: By the Cleveland Browns as head coach, SAM RUTIGLIANO, 45, most recently receiver coach of the New Orleans Saints, to succeed Forrest Gregg, who resigned under pressure.
DIED: HALSEY HALL, 79, broadcaster for the Minnesota Twins 1961-72; in St. Louis Park, Minn.