PRO BASKETBALL—There was nothing too jazzy about Utah's recent record entering the week: 12 defeats in its last 15 games, including five straight road losses, and a tumble into second place in the Midwest Division for the first time since Dec. 16. "We're in a slump," said guard Rickey Green. But then the Jazz began to make sweet music: Utah beat Portland 124-119 as Adrian Dantley, the NBA's leading scorer (30.6 points per game), and Darrell Griffith, who has twice as many three-point field goals (77) as anyone else in the NBA, combined for 74 points; Dantley also had 37 in a 115-111 defeat of Golden State; and he did in Dallas, a 118-103 loser, with 40. When he finished firing, the Jazz was back in first. Pacific Division leader Los Angeles was also three for three, including a 123-111 victory in Houston, where the Rockets retired the jersey of former guard Calvin Murphy. In Detroit, Pistons point guard Isiah Thomas received one of those so-called lifetime contracts—worth some $10 million over 10 years. The day after signing that deal, Thomas played like small change, scoring only 17 points, five below his season's average, in a crucial 116-95 Central Division loss in Milwaukee. Detroit dropped two more—at home no less—to fall a half game back of the Bucks in the race for the Central title. In the Atlantic Division, first-place Boston celebrated St. Patrick's Day by crushing Atlanta 103-88, as the Hawks played without forward Sly Williams, who had been suspended for four days on March 15 for "improper bench conduct." The entire Atlanta team could be suspended for improper floor conduct: The Hawks are 5-15 over their last 20 games.
BOWLING—MARK ROTH won the $200,000 U.S. Open, defeating Guppy Troup 244-237 in Oak Lawn, Ill.
BOXING—JIRO WATANABE successfully defended his WBA junior bantamweight title with a 15th-round technical knockout of Celso Chavez in Osaka.
Edwin Rosario retained his WBC lightweight title with a TKO of Roberto Elizondo in the first round in San Juan, Puerto Rico (page 50).
PRO FOOTBALL—USFL: A stouthearted performance by Birmingham quarterback Cliff Stoudt spoiled the homecoming of former University of Alabama quarterback Walter Lewis, now a rookie with Memphis. Stoudt completed 21 of 29 passes for 273 yards and two touchdowns and ran for two more scores in a 54-6 sinking of the Showboats. Lewis connected on only six of 19 attempts. Another Lewis, cornerback Will of Houston, starred in the Gamblers' 32-25 upset of previously unbeaten New Jersey. Lewis picked off two Brian Sipe passes, sprinting 34 yards for a TD with one of them and rambling 13 yards to the Generals' one with the other. New Jersey is now tied with Philadelphia for the Atlantic Division lead, the Stars, behind Kelvin Bryant's 173 rushing yards and two TDs, having thrashed Oakland 28-7. Michigan, the Central Division leader, ran its two-year unbeaten streak to 10 games by edging Arizona 31-26. The Panthers' Bobby Hebert fired three touchdown passes, and safety David Greenwood snuffed off a Wrangler threat with an end-zone interception in the game's final minute. In other games, winless Chicago lost to Oklahoma 17-14; Los Angeles defeated San Antonio 13-12; Pittsburgh broke into the win column against 0-4 Washington 16-7; and Pacific Division-leading Denver upset previously unbeaten Tampa Bay 36-30. The Bandits' loss allowed idle New Orleans to take over the Southern Division lead.
GOLF—CHRIS JOHNSON shot a 16-under-par 272 to win a $150,000 LPGA event in Tucson. She defeated second-place Lauri Peterson by six strokes for her second straight tour victory.
Gary Koch birdied two holes in a sudden-death playoff to beat George Burns and win a $400,000 event in Orlando, Fla. Koch shot a final-round 8-under-par 63 to tie Burns at a 16-under-par 272.
HOCKEY—Toronto right wing Rick Vaive put himself into some pretty select company—his own—when he scored twice during a 3-3 tie with Norris Division leader Minnesota. The goals were Vaive's 49th and 50th of the year. No Leaf—not Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Dave Keon nor Norm Ullman—ever scored 50 in a year, but Vaive has done it his last three years in the league. Thanks mainly to Vaive, Toronto remains in the hunt for one of the three unclaimed playoff spots with St. Louis, Chicago and Detroit. A Blues 5-3 win over Detroit drove them past the Wings into second in the Norris. Buffalo won five straight to move six points up on second-place Boston in the Adams Division race. Though the Smythe Division-champion Oilers then beat the Sabres 4-3 in Edmonton, Buffalo still had the second-best road record (22-14-1) in the NHL. Bobby Clarke of Philadelphia returned from a week's benching with fire in his eyes. He assisted on the Flyers' first goal in a 6-3 victory over the Bruins and keyed a 6-4 win over the Rangers by scoring twice within 3:04 in the third period to tie the score 4-4. In the Patrick Division standings, third-place Philly still trailed Washington by five points and the Islanders by six (page 22).
HORSE RACING—DARN THAT ALARM ($81.40), Mike Venezia up, led wire to wire to win the $122,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park by half a length over Counterfeit Money and a length and a half in front of 1-2 favorite Swale. The 3-year-old colt covered the 1[1/16] miles in 1:43.
MOTOR SPORTS—BENNY PARSONS drove a Chevy to victory in a $359,000, 500-mile NASCAR race in Hampton, Ga. He averaged a track-record 144.945 mph on the 1.522-mile Atlanta International Raceway oval to beat Dale Earnhardt, also in a Chevy, by half a second.
SOCCER—MISL: Baltimore made its move in the Eastern Division. The second-place Blast exploded for three wins in as many tries, including a 4-3 victory over first-place Pittsburgh. Baltimore thus trailed the Spirit by three percentage points. In the West, Kansas City lost to Wichita (5-4) and last-place Tacoma (3-2) and handed the top spot over to St. Louis, which steamed into the lead thanks to a 10-3 mauling of Memphis.
NASL: San Diego, Golden Bay, Chicago and New York clinched the four league playoff spots. The first-place Sockers doubled their pleasure, beating Vancouver 10-3 and the Sting 6-3.
SWIMMING—TEXAS defeated defending champion Stanford 392-324 to win the NCAA women's swimming and diving championship in Indianapolis. MEGAN NEYER of third-place Florida became the first NCAA Division I diver to win three straight one-and three-meter titles.
MILEPOSTS—FIRED: As general counsel of the NBA referees union, which he had represented since its inception in 1976, RICHIE PHILLIPS, 43, who serves in the same capacity for the major league baseball umpires union.
As coach and general manager of the USFL's Oakland Invaders, JOHN RALSTON, 56. He had a 9-12 two-year record. Chuck Hutchison, 35, the Invader offensive-line coach, replaced him.
NAMED: As coach of the MISL New York Arrows, goalie SHEP MESSING, 34, who also will continue playing. He replaced interim coach Jim McGeough.
SIGNED: By the New York Mets, outfielder JERRY MARTIN, 34, to a one-year contract worth over $200,000. It will go into effect at the conclusion of Martin's cocaine-related suspension.
DIED: CHARLEY LAU, 50, a catcher with five major league teams (1956-67) who subsequently gained fame as a batting instructor for the Royals, Yankees and White Sox; of cancer of the colon; in Marathon, Fla. Lau made extensive use of videotape for swing analysis and stressed standing off the plate, extending the arms and hitting to all fields. K.C.'s George Brett was his most notable disciple.