BASKETBALL—ABA: East Division leader Kentucky had a Christmas gift of sorts for second-place Virginia, and that, it seemed, was to forget about catching up (page 54). West leader Utah extended its lead over Indiana to 6½ games as Zelmo Beaty's 30-point effort headed a 150-129 win over the Pacers. It was the Stars' 20th win in their last 23 games and Indiana's fourth loss in the last five games. But the most entertaining team in the league was probably New York, which always seems to take its fans down to the last seconds—and beyond—before losing. When the Nets played Pittsburgh in a rare ABA game in Madison Square Garden, many of the New York fans rooted for the Condors. Sure enough, George Carter's rebound shot with seven seconds left in overtime gave Pittsburgh a 124-123 win. It was New York's fourth straight overtime loss. "These are good fans," said Pittsburgh's John Brisker, who led all scorers with 44 points. "It doesn't seem to matter whether you're playing on their team or against them—they still appreciate good play."
NBA: Los Angeles set a major league pro sports record with its 27th win in a row, a 127-120 victory over Baltimore, to eclipse the New York baseball Giants' mark of 26 straight in 1916. Jerry-West, who had missed all three of the Lakers' losses with injuries, paced the effort with 37 points. "We don't want to sound blase." said Center Wilt Chamberlain, "but we did our celebrating when we won No. 21 [to break the NBA record). That was the big one." The Lakers, who have not lost since Oct. 31, won five games in six nights to set the pro sports mark. Defending champion Milwaukee, the Midwest leader, was not doing badly itself at 30-6 but could not maintain its own win streak. East leader Boston ruined a nine-game Buck skein with a 104-98 win as John Havlicek made 18 of his 26 points in the second half. Then the Celtics knocked off Cincinnati 99-94 for their seventh straight. They needed all the wins they could muster, however, because second-place New York had a six-game streak of its own going. Only three games separated first-place Baltimore and fourth-place Cincinnati in the Central Division, which has the league's most exciting race in spite of some totally unstimulating statistics, like a 13-21 record for the division leaders. Second-place Cleveland won an appeal and will get to play the last four seconds of its disputed 91-90 loss to Buffalo over again Feb. 1.
BOXING—BOB FOSTER, who is recognized as light-heavyweight champion of the world by every major body but the World Boxing Association, retained his title with a third-round knockout of Brian Kelly Burden in Oklahoma City. WBA champion VICENTE RONDON of Venezuela kept pace by stopping Doyle Baird in the eighth round in Cleveland.
Jose Napoles of Mexico, the world welterweight champion, won a unanimous decision over Hedgemon Lewis to retain his title in Inglewood, Calif. In the second half of a doubleheader at The Forum, bantamweight champion RUBEN OLIVARES of Mexico knocked out Jesus Pimentel in the 11th.
Muhammad Ali, the top-ranked heavyweight contender, knocked out German J√ºrgen Blin in the seventh round of their scheduled 12-round bout, in Zurich, Switzerland.
FOOTBALL—AFC: MIAMI beat Kansas City 27-24 in the longest pro game—82 minutes. 40 seconds—ever played, and BALTIMORE outslogged Cleveland 20-3 in the division's semifinal playoff games (pane 12).
NFC: DALLAS used four interceptions to roll up a 20-12 win over Minnesota and will defend its conference title against SAN FRANCISCO, a 24-20 winner over Washington (page 15).
College: Bert Jones threw for three second-half touchdowns and scored another himself as LOUISIANA STATE ran away from Iowa State 33-15 to win the Sun Bowl in El Paso. In the Liberty Bowl at Memphis Curt Watson scored the tying touchdown on a 17-yard run with 1:56 left, and George Hunt kicked his 66th extra point to give TENNESSEE a 14-1.5 win over Arkansas. Intercepting four passes, recovering one fumble and blocking a punt. MEMPHIS STATE pulled away from San Jose State in the second half and won 28-9 in the Pasadena Bowl.
HOCKEY—Two expansion team, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, came from two goals behind to tie the once-lordly Bruins (pane 18), whose long-awaited charge into first place was still pending. Meanwhile, the young Rangers, expected to be out of first by now, led the East by four points. Admittedly, New York had help from a veteran, the old Canadian Jean Ratelle. His 200th goal provided the Ranger score in a 1-1 lie with Minnesota. He set up the winner in a 4-2 win over Pittsburgh as the Rangers extended their unbeaten streak at home to 16. then scored the winning goal in a 2-1 victory over Minnesota. It was the age-burdened North Stars' sixth loss in their last nine games; they fell seven points behind Chicago, the West leaders. Sixth-place St. Louis made its second coaching change of the season, replacing Bill McCreary, who had been top man since Oct. 31, with 39-year-old Al Arbour, an old Blues defenseman—and former coach. McCreary's record was 6-14-4, and the club's management had reason to hope for improvement: as Blues coach for 50 games last season, Arbour had a 21-15-14 record.
MILEPOSTS-REHIRED: LOU SABAN, 50, who resigned as head coach of the Denver Broncos in November, as coach of the Buffalo Bills. Saban, who will also be the Bills' vice-president in charge of football, whatever that title means, guided Buffalo to AFL titles in 1964 and 1965. HARLAND SVARE, 41, was named head coach of the San Diego Chargers. Interim head coach after Sid Gillman resigned in November, he posted a 2-2 record for the remainder of the season.
HIRED: EMORY BELLARD, 44, who introduced the Wishbone offense while a Texas assistant, as head coach at Texas A&M to succeed the fired Gene Stallings.
HIRED: GRANT TEAFF, 38, former coach at McMurry and Angelo State, to replace fired Bill Beall al Baylor.
HIRED: Rice Coach BILL PETERSON, 48, to replace the fired ED HUGHES, 43, as coach of the Houston Oilers. Houston was 4-9-1 under Hughes.
NAMED: As members of the U.S. Olympic speed skating team, NEIL BLATCHFORD, 26, whose time of 39.1 seconds equaled the American record for 500 meters, DIANNE HOLUM, 20, a double medal winner in the 1968 Olympics, and ANNE HENNING, 16, the women's world record holder for 500 meters; all of Northbrook, Ill. Rounding out the 10-man, six-woman team selected at the Olympic Trials in Milwaukee were Dan Carroll, John Wurster, Bill Lanigan, Pete Eberling, Charles Gilmore, Gary Jonland, Clark King. Greg Lyman, Jack Walters. Jeanne Omelenchuk, Kay Lunda, Leah Poulos and Sheila Young.
NAMED: Heavyweight champion JOE FRAZIER, as Boxer of the Year, by the American Boxing Writers Association.
DIED: DICK TIGER, 42, twice world middleweight boxing champion and once the light heavyweight titlist; of a liver ailment in Aba, Nigeria. Tiger, whose career record was 61-17-3, defeated Gene Fullmer for the middleweight title in 1962 lost it to Joey Giardello the next year, regained it from Giardello in 1965 and was dethroned by Emile Griffith in 1966. Tiger then won the light heavyweight title from Jose Torres in 1966 and lost it to Bob Foster in 1968 on a knockout, the only one he suffered in his entire career.
DIED: BOBBY JONES, 69, the only winner of golf's Grand Slam (page 7), the owner of an unprecedented 13 major titles and the designer of the Augusta National course, site of the Masters tournament; after a 23-year bout with a spinal disorder, in Atlanta.