PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: It was Game 6, and Denver had to win to stay alive. During the first 10 minutes of the second quarter the Nuggets closed Seattle's lead to one point. It was the closest they'd come all evening. After that, the Nuggets got within six points twice early in the third period, but Seattle, led by Fred Brown's 26 points, defeated Denver 123-108 to move into the NBA finals for the first time in its 11-year history. In Game 1 of the finals, the Sonics and Washington met at the Seattle Center Coliseum—where the Sonics have won their last 20 games, including eight in the playoffs. Led again by Brown, who scored a game-high 30 points, Seattle rallied from a 19-point third-period deficit to defeat the Bullets 106-102.
BOXING—JOSE (PEPINO) CUEVAS, 20, retained his WBA welterweight title with a first-round knockout of Billy Backus, 35, in Inglewood, Calif.
Olympic heavyweight champion TEOFILO STEVENSON of Cuba defeated Dragomir Vujkovic of Yugoslavia to retain his title at the second world amateur championships in Belgrade. Cuba also won four other gold medals, the Soviet Union three, and the U.S. wound up with three bronze medals.
GOLF—JIM SIMONS rolled in a 20-foot putt to save par on the final hole and beat Bill Kratzert by one stroke in the $250,000 Memorial Tournament in Dublin, Ohio. Simons finished with a four-under-par 284 (page 96).
Winning her fourth tournament of the year, rookie NANCY LOPEZ parred the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to defeat JoAnne Carner in the $100,000 LPGA Classic in Jamesburg, N.J. Lopez had a three-under-par 210.
HOCKEY—NHL: Guy Lafleur beat Boston Goalie Gerry Cheevers with a 35-foot shot at 13:09 of overtime as Montreal defeated the Bruins 3-2 to take a two-games-to-none lead in their Stanley Cup final-round playoff. Boston ended a 12-game winless streak against the defending Stanley Cup champions when the Bruins shut out Montreal 4-0 in Game 3—the Canadiens' first playoff shutout since May 13, 1971. On Sunday, Boston defeated the Canadiens 4-3 in overtime to tie the series at 2-2 (page 16).
WHA: In 1976 Winnipeg came off an 18-day layoff to sweep the Houston Aeros and win the Avco Trophy. This year the Jets had a 19-day wait before meeting New England in the finals. Trying for a repeat performance, the Jets led the series 3-0, and to make matters worse for the Whalers, Winnipeg had not lost to New England in their last 11 meetings. Led by a power-play goal by Willy Lindstrom at 4:56, the Jets went on to score four times in the next two minutes and 50 seconds as Winnipeg grabbed Game 3, 10-2. Each Winnipeg player, except the goaltenders and defensemen Ted Green and Lars-Erik Sjoberg, contributed at least one point.
HORSE RACING—AFFIRMED ($3), Steve Cauthen up, beat Alydar by a neck to win the $188,700 Preakness at Pimlico. Patrice and Louis Wolfson's colt ran the 1[3/16] miles in 1:54[2/5] (page 20).
Batonnier ($5.40), ridden by 16-year-old apprentice Ron Hirdes, beat Raymond Earl by three lengths in the $104,700 Illinois Derby in Chicago. The 3-year-old colt covered the 1‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬µ miles in 1:51[3/5] for his third straight impressive victory.
MOTOR SPORTS—Leading from start to finish, MARIO ANDRETTI, driving a Lotus-Ford, won the Belgian Grand Prix 9.9 seconds ahead of teammate Ronnie Peterson. Peterson, in a Lotus-Ford, set a one-lap record of 1:23.13. Andretti, who won his eighth Grand Prix, was timed in 1:39:52.02 for an average speed of 111.506 mph on the 2.648-mile Zolder circuit.
David Pearson, driving a Mercury, got his 101st career victory in the Mason-Dixon 500 in Dover, Del. Pearson, who had an average speed of 114.664, finished 12 seconds ahead of defending champion Cale Yarborough's Oldsmobile.
SOCCER—NASL: Portland ruined the Cosmos' chance to tie the league record of eight consecutive wins with a 2-1 victory. The Timbers also beat San Jose 3-2 to take over first place in the Western Division and extend their winning streak to four games. New England downed Chicago 3-2, the Sting's ninth consecutive loss. But to demonstrate their confidence in their coach, the Sting's owners gave Malcolm Musgrove a raise and a new contract through the end of the 1979 season. Minnesota ended Vancouver's five-game winning streak with a 3-2 victory. Paul Cannell scored both of Washington's goals, but the Diplomats lost to Fort Lauderdale. The Strikers won 3-2. Oakland, which had a 4-4 record, fired Coach Mirko Stojanovic the night before its game with Memphis, which the Stompers then won 1-0. Three days later Memphis won its first game after nine losses, 3-1 over Dallas. Giorgio Chinaglia treated a crowd of 71,219, the largest in regular-season league history, to his second hat trick of the year, to lead the Cosmos past Seattle 5-1. Chinaglia leads the league in scoring, with 28 points.
ASL: Jack Howarth scored all three goals as Southern California defeated the Indy Daredevils 3-0 for its first win of the season. Until they met the New York Apollo last week, the New York Eagles were the league's only undefeated team, but Mike Mancini scored the first and last goals as the Apollo handed the Eagles a 3-2 loss in overtime.
TENNIS—GUILLERMO VILAS won the $175,000 German Open in Hamburg, defeating Wojtek Fibak 6-2, 6-4, 6-2. MIMA JAUSOVEC of Yugoslavia beat top-seeded Virginia Ruzici of Romania 6-2, 6-3 to win the women's title.
WTT: Rod Laver came from behind five times to defeat Vitas Gerulaitis 7-5 and lead San Diego to its seventh straight victory, 27-26 over New York. The next night Laver lost 3-6 to Andrew Pattison, but San Diego took its eighth win, 27-17 over New Orleans. Los Angeles managed to defeat Seattle 25-23 even though Marita Redondo upset Chris Evert 6-3 and Tom Gorman defeated Ilie Nastase 7-6. Two nights later Los Angeles defeated Indiana 30-19 as Evert avenged an earlier loss to Dianne Fromholtz with a 6-2 win and Nastase beat Allan Stone 6-4. Playing without two of their top players, Ray Ruffels and Billie Jean King (both were out with viruses), the Apples still defeated New Orleans 30-20 for their first victory in four meetings with the Nets this season. Renee Richards beat JoAnne Russell 7-5 for New Orleans' lone win in the match.
TRACK & FIELD—MIKE TULLY of UCLA surpassed the world record in the pole vault at the Pac 8 championships in Corvallis, Ore. Tully's leap of 18'8¾" was one-half inch higher than the record set by Dave Roberts in 1976 but may not be accepted because of a technicality (page 11).
MILEPOSTS—DIED: JOIE RAY, 84, former American middle-distance and distance runner; in Benton Harbor, Mich. A member of the 1920, '24 and '28 U.S. Olympic teams, Ray tied a world indoor record in the mile (4:12) in 1925 and set an American outdoor record (4:14.6) in 1919.