PRO BASKETBALL—Don't look now, but with one week left in the NBA regular season, the Celtics had won six in a row and trailed the first-place 76ers by only 1½ games in the battle for the Atlantic Division crown. The Celtics closed the gap with a 3-0 week; they beat the Nets 112-96, the Heat 139-118 and the Knicks 101-94. The last of those triumphs was Boston's 24th straight win over New York at the Boston Garden. Larry Bird averaged 25.3 points and had a 40-point night against Miami, which saw the Celtics connect on all 35 of their free throw attempts. Also of note from the foul line was Chris Dudley of New Jersey, who went 1 for 18 in a 124-113 Net loss to the Pacers. Philadelphia, 2-1 on the week, lost 123-111 at home to the Hawks, who were sparring with the Cavaliers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. Atlanta pulled to within half a game of Cleveland with the help of a 115-111 win in Detroit. Dominique Wilkins led the Hawks with 25 points, and the Pistons received seven technical fouls, as Detroit lost for only the fifth time at The Palace this season. The Pistons, however, retained a three-game lead over the Bulls in the Central Division with an assist from the Bullets, who broke Chicago's nine-game winning streak with a 113-103 victory. In the Western Conference the Rockets soared into a tie with the SuperSonics in the chase for the last postseason berth. Houston swept a home-and-home series with the Hornets, 115-112 and 117-110, then snapped a nine-game losing streak at Utah with a 103-99 victory as Akeem Olajuwon of the Rockets scored 27 points and Karl Malone of the Midwest Division-leading Jazz was ejected in the second quarter after receiving two technical fouls. Malone also helped out Houston by scoring 33 points in a 114-102 win over Seattle, but the Mailman's special delivery was a 45-point night against the Lakers. Los Angeles roared back from a 23-point second-half deficit only to lose 107-104 on a pair of Malone free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining. Despite the loss, the Lakers needed just one win to clinch the league's best record and a home-court advantage throughout the playoffs.
BOWLING—JIM PENCAK beat Purvis Granger 231-215 to win a PBA event and $28,000 in Atlantic City.
BOXING—MIKE McCALLUM knocked out Michael Watson in the 11th round to retain the WBA middleweight title, in London.
Michael Nunn successfully defended his IBF middleweight title by scoring a majority decision over Marlon Starling, in Las Vegas (page 50).
GOLF-PAYNE STEWART birdied the second playoff hole to beat Larry Mize and win a PGA Tour event and $180,000 on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Stewart, Mize and Steve Jones finished regulation play at eight-under-par 276.
Gary Player shot a seven-under-par 281 to win the PGA Seniors' Championship and $75,000, in Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. (page 46).
HOCKEY—In what may become known as the Shuttle Series, the Rangers and the Capitals will meet in the Patrick Division finals, which begin this week, after winning their divisional semifinals. Theirs was the only matchup determined by week's end. The Rangers got a hat trick from late-season acquisition Mike Gartner as they beat the Islanders 6-5 to clinch that series four games to one. Washington bounced back from a 2-1 series deficit with three straight wins to eliminate the Devils. The Caps' backup goalie, Don Beaupre, was given the start in Game 4 and stayed on to limit New Jersey to only six goals—while averaging 24 saves—during Washington's three-game streak. The Caps' offense was spearheaded by Dino Ciccarelli, who scored the go-ahead goal in the third period of Game 5 and at week's end was this year's playoff leader, with eight goals and 11 points. In the Adams Division the Canadiens secured a spot in the finals as Stephane Richer scored a pair of goals in a 4-2 win over the Sabres in Game 5 and Russ Courtnall netted two in Montreal's clinching 5-2 sixth-game victory. Buffalo hasn't reached the second round of the playoffs since 1983. In the battle between the Bruins and Whalers to produce the Canadiens' next opponent, Boston, playing without injured star defenseman Ray Bourque, recovered from a 2-1 deficit in games as Cam Neely scored two goals in a 3-2 Game 5 triumph that put the Bruins ahead in the series. But Hartford's Kevin Dineen forced a seventh game, to be played Tuesday night, with a goal at 12:30 of overtime of the Whalers' 3-2 Game 6 victory. In the Norris Division the Blues were the most efficient team, dispatching the Maple Leafs in five games. In Game 4 Toronto's Gary Leeman, a 51-goal scorer during the season, got his first goal of the series, and the Leafs, on the brink of being swept, won 4-2. But the Blues bounced right back with a 4-3 victory as Brett Hull scored two more goals to run his playoff total to five. St. Louis, which had won only one of eight games against Toronto during the regular season, then began its wait for the winner of the other Norris semifinal, between the Blackhawks and the North Stars. It appeared that Chicago had matters in hand when its defense held the Stars to just two shots on goal in the first period of an easy 5-1 win that gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 series lead. But in Game 6 Minnesota knocked Blackhawk goalie Greg Millen out of the net in the first period, for the third time in the series, on its way to a 5-3 win that evened the series at three games apiece. Perry Berezan and Neal Broten scored goals 1:23 apart in that opening period to chase Millen. In the Smythe Division, Edmonton showed a similar knack for survival. The Jets jumped to a 3-1 series lead over the Oilers when Dave Ellett had a power-play goal 1:08 into the second overtime to give Winnipeg a 4-3 win in Game 4. But the 4-3 score would come back to haunt the Jets in the next two games, as Edmonton won both by that score. Mark Messier got the winning goal early in the third period, and Bill Ranford stopped 26 shots in the fifth game. In Game 6 Jari Kurd netted the tiebreaker as Edmonton won again. In the other Smythe semifinal, the Kings stunned the Flames in six games, marking the second straight year in which Los Angeles has upset the defending Stanley Cup champions in an opening-round series (page 28).
HORSE RACING—In Kentucky Derby prep races KILLER DILLER ($6.40), with James Bruin up, won the Garden State Stakes—and $90,000—by two lengths over My Other Brother with a time of 1:52[2/5] for the 1‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬µ miles, at Garden State Park, and SUMMER SQUALL ($2.60), Pat Day in the saddle, overtook Land Rush down the stretch to prevail in the Blue Grass Stakes, at Keeneland. The colt ran the 1‚Äö√Ñ√∂‚àö√±‚àö¬µ miles in 1:48[3/5] and earned $185,006.
MARATHON—GELINDO BORDIN of Italy won the men's division of the Boston Marathon in 2:08:19, and ROSA MOTA of Portugal finished first among the women, in 2:25:23 (page 48).
TENNIS-STEFFI GRAF routed Arantxa Sanchez Vicario 6-1, 6-0 to win a women's tour event and $70,000 on Amelia Island, Fla. (page 44).
Stefan Edberg defeated Aaron Krickstein 6-4, 7-5 to triumph in a men's tour event in Tokyo. He earned $137,500.
MILEPOSTS—BANNED: From racing in Louisiana for 10 years, jockey SYLVESTER CARMOUCHE, 31, who was found guilty of cheating by hiding in the fog in a Jan. 11 race at Delta Downs.
NAMED: As basketball coach at Oklahoma State, EDDIE SUTTON, 54, who has a career coaching record of 432-165 in 20 years at Kentucky and two other schools.
DIED: Toronto Maple Leaf owner HAROLD BALLARD, 86; of complications from heart problems and diabetes; in Toronto (page 24).