PRO BASKETBALL—Ifthe Knicks were becoming guardedly optimistic about their chances of winningtheir first Eastern Conference title in 16 years, you could hardly blame them:In a 3-0 week, during which New York ran its home win streak to 13 games, itdefeated the Pistons, the conference champions, for the third straight time.100-93. Knicks point guard Mark Jackson had 19 points in that victory, and hisbackup, rookie Hot Rod Strickland, scored 16, while their Detroit counterpart,Isiah Thomas, was harried into a 6-for-18 shooting performance. Even moreannoyed were the 76ers, who. despite a 4-0 week, were practically where theywere when the week began—four behind first-place New York in the AtlanticDivision. In the Central Division, the Cavaliers, the NBA's best team, sawtheir 11-game winning streak come to an end. SuperSonics forward Derrick McKeyfinished things with a boom for the Cavs when he grabbed a last-secondoffensive rebound and slammed it home for a 105-103 Seattle victory. In theMidwest Division, the revamped Rockets gained a bit of breathing room, moving3½ ahead of third-place Denver and four up on Dallas. Houston, which at 22-12has equaled the best start in the franchise's history, has but two players backfrom the 1986 Western Conference champions. The biggest of that pair, 7-footcenter Akeem Olajuwon, had 32 points and 16 rebounds in a 116-106 win overPortland. Only the Jazz remained within two games of the Rockets, mostlybecause of the improvisational skills of guard John Stockton, who had 26points, 16 assists and six steals in a 115-91 romp past the Spurs. In thePacific Division, the Warriors tried a four-guard offense and got four wins.The most unguardable of those backcourtmen was Chris Mullin, who averaged 32points and gave the Suns a stroke with his 39-11-11 triple double in a 130-124win. Still, Golden State lagged six behind the division-leading Lakers andtheir fading 41-year-old center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (page 30).
GOLF—STEVE JONESbirdied the first playoff hole to defeat Paul Azinger and Sandy Lyle and winthe Bob Hope Classic and $180,000, in Palm Desert, Calif. Jones, Azinger andLyle had 17-under-par 343s for the regulation 90 holes (page 20).
Betsy King shotan 11-under-par 202 to defeat Nancy Lopez by six strokes in the inauguralJamaica Classic, in Sandy Bay, and earned $75,000.
HOCKEY—Thingshave been going so well for the Flames, the Smythe Division leaders, that lastweek goaltender Rick Wamsley complained of boredom. Perhaps it was justWamsley's nasty luck to miss all the excitement. Calgary's other goalie. MikeVernon, was in the nets when his team's crafty center, Joe Nieuwendyk. scoredfive goals—four of them in the second period—to help beat the Jets 8-3. AndVernon was on the ice again when the North Stars delighted a sellout crowd atthe Met Center by blasting 42 shots in his direction. It was the first time allseason the Flames' defense had permitted more than 40 shots. Yet when all theshooting was done, a pumped-up Vernon emerged with a 1-1 tie. The second-placeKings were doing their best to keep Calgary interested. They used a pair offormer Oilers to beat Edmonton 5-4, as Mike Krushelnyski scored the game-winneron Wayne Gretzky's fourth assist of the night. Center Bernie Nicholls scoredthree times for L.A. in a defeat of the Blues, but at week's end the Kings werestill six points in back of Calgary. Fans of the Norris Division front-runners,the Red Wings, were happy that forward Steve Yzerman wasn't. Yzerman scored his39th goal in a 3-2 win over the Adams Division—pace-setting Canadiens, addedtwo more and three assists in a 5-5 deadlock with the Bruins and thenpronounced himself displeased with his play of late. The Red Wings finished theweek 13 points up on St. Louis and 14 ahead of Minnesota, whose 29-year-oldcaptain, Craig Hartsburg, afflicted with painful hip, knee, shoulder andstomach injuries, abruptly retired. The Flyers' Derrick Smith no doubt madeHartsburg wince when, sliding on his tummy, he scored the game-winning goal inPhilly's 3-2 defeat of the North Stars. This sort of fortitude helped keep theFlyers clustered with the Rangers, the Penguins and the Capitals in a tightrace for the Patrick Division lead. Worried that its habit of peaking wellbefore the playoffs might recur this year, Washington hired a teampsychologist. Last week, with Freud on their side, the Caps were...peakingearly and moving into first place.
INDOORSOCCER—First-place Baltimore moved a game ahead of Dallas as the Blast splittwo weekend games with fifth-place Tacoma. On Friday, Stars forward Preki addedfive points to his league-leading total of 41 in a 7-3 win. The next night CarlValentine's fifth goal of the game clinched an 8-7 overtime triumph for theBlast. Dallas, meanwhile, was blown out 7-2 by last-place Kansas City. Cometsforward Jan Goossens sparked the upset with three second-half goals.
In the finals ofthe first indoor soccer World Championships in Rotterdam, Brazil beat theNetherlands 2-1. The surprising United States team defeated Belgium 3-2, toplace third (page 8).
MARATHON—In theHouston Marathon, RICHARD KAITANY of Kenya ran a 2:10:04, breaking by 1:07 thecourse record set by Benji Durden of the United States in 1983 and beatingrunner-up Kenny Stuart of Great Britain by 1:32.
TENNIS—AARONKRICKSTEIN defeated Andrei Cherkasov 6-4, 6-2 to win the men's championship and$23,000 at the New South Wales Open in Sydney. MARTINA NAVRATILOVA beatCatarina Lindqvist 6-2, 6-4 to win the women's title and $40,000.
MILEPOSTS—CHARGED: By police in Atlanta, San Diego Charger linebacker CHIPBANKS, 29, with drug possession, aggravated sodomy and false imprisonment.Banks sat out the 1988 season because of a contract dispute.
ELECTED: To theBaseball Hall of Fame, by the Baseball Writers Association of America, formerCincinnati Reds catcher JOHNNY BENCH, 41, and former Boston Red Soxoutfielder-first baseman, CARL YASTRZEMSKI, 49. During his 17 seasons (1967through '83), Bench batted .267 with 389 home runs (a big league-record 327 ofthem as a catcher) and 1,376 RBIs and won 10 Gold Gloves. In 23 years (1961through '83), Yastrzemski batted .285 with 452 home runs, 3,419 hits and 1,844RBIs. Bench and Yastrzemski were the 18th and 19th players chosen for the Hallin their first season of eligibility.
As the NFL's MostValuable Player, Cincinnati Bengal quarterback BOOMER ESIASON, 27.
SUSPENDED: By theNHL, Boston Bruin coach TERRY O'REILLY, for four games, and New Jersey Devilsforward JIM KORN, for three, for scuffling after a game on Dec. 29.
TRADED: By theNew York Yankees, righthanded pitcher RICK RHODEN, 35, to the Houston Astrosfor three minor league players.
DIED: BILL TERRY,90, Hall of Fame first baseman and manager for the New York Giants; of naturalcauses; in Jacksonville. A graceful fielder and a stylish lefthanded hitter,Terry was the last National Leaguer to hit .400 in a season (.401 in 1930). Hebatted .341 during his 14-year playing career (1923 through '36).
FACES IN THE CROWD
WALLED LAKE, MICH.
Brian, a senior at Western High, and Celeste, a junior at Kankakee Valley High,won the boys' and girls' divisions, respectively, at the Kinney national highschool cross-country championship in San Diego. With a mile of the 3.1-milecourse remaining, Brian overtook Jason DiJoseph and went on to win by 6.8seconds in a time of 15:03.3. On the same course, Celeste took the lead with400 meters to go and finished 3.7 seconds ahead of Melody Fairchild, in17:14.4.
Ryan, 8, beat Eric Goldstein of Marietta, Ga., 6-1, 6-3 in the singles final ofthe Coosa Country Club tennis tournament for his eighth USTA win in the10-and-under division. He's ranked 39th in the state's 12-and-underdivision.
Hirschauer, a senior striker, became the leading women's soccer career goalscorer for both Brown (62) and the Ivy League (29) in her four varsity seasons.She was named the conference's woman player of the year last season.
Hood, a freshman at Northeastern Oklahoma A & M, completed nine of 14passes for 134 yards and two TDs in a 36-7 defeat of Lees-McRae Junior College.It was A & M's third straight win in the annual Mid-America Bowlforjucos.
Krauser, 62, a warehouse owner, won the 60-64 age group 800-meter freestyle (in13:17.79), 200 butterfly (3:40.18) and 400 individual medley (7:27.86) at theWorld Masters Swimming tournament in Brisbane, Australia.