BASKETBALL—NBA: Boston's Atlantic Division lead over New York slipped slightly—to 4½ games—when the Celtics lost two and the Knicks won one of three. Cincinnati whacked the Celtics 125-114 to break a five-game winning streak as the Royals poured in 47 points in the last period. Tom Van Arsdale and Nate Archibald scored 39 points apiece, including 17 points each in the fourth quarter. The next night Milwaukee, with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scoring 45, edged the Celtics 132-127 in overtime. New York dropped its third game in four starts 100-98 to Philadelphia, then easily beat Midwest leader Milwaukee 110-101 as Jerry Lucas, who scored 30 points, became only the fifth player in NBA history to pull down 12,000 career rebounds. It was the Knicks' third win over the Bucks in four games this season. "It's amazing how we beat them," said Walt Frazier. "It's got to be psychological. Not only do we think we can beat them, we know it." First-place Baltimore upset both Los Angeles 108-94 and Seattle 105-98 to extend its winning string to four (on a Western road trip) and its Central Division lead over Atlanta, which dropped two, to five games. The Bullets not only broke a Laker five-game win streak but became the first team this season to hold L.A. below 100 points as Jack Marin, who scored 29, stopped Jerry West from making a field goal in the second half. The victory over Seattle was the first by a Central Division team in 17 games against the SuperSonics and was the fourth straight in which the Bullets kept their opponents from breaking 100. Seattle's chances of finishing second in the Pacific Division dwindled when its two high scorers, Captain Dick Snyder and Forward Spencer Haywood (fifth best average in the league), joined starting Center Don Smith (fractured leg) on the sidelines for the rest of the season. Snyder broke a finger on his shooting hand and Haywood injured his knee slipping on a wet spot on the court in a 112-110 win over Atlanta. The SuperSonics then lost two in a row while Golden State won two, and the Warriors jumped two games ahead in the battle for a playoff spot behind the Lakers.
ABA: Kentucky extended its latest winning streak to eight games with three more wins for a 17½-game lead in the East, and Utah waltzed to six in a row and 17 of its last 18 with four wins for an 11½-game lead in the West. With the two leaders laughing their way to titles, the only suspense in the league was over who would be the latest star to quit his team. Following closely on the heels of Jim McDaniels' leap from Carolina to the NBA was Charlie Scott's abrupt departure from Virginia, the East runner-up. Scott, the league leader with a 34.6-point average, scored 24 in a 113-99 loss to New York to break the ABA season record with 2,524 points, then disappeared from sight, presumably upset over his contract, a depressingly familiar ploy by would-be league-jumpers.
BOXING—Second-ranked light heavyweight contender MIKE QUARRY, brother of Jerry, the second-ranked heavyweight contender, won a unanimous 10-round decision over Tommy Hicks at New York's Madison Square Garden.
CURLING—NORTH DAKOTA, skipped by Bob La-Bonte, won the men's national championship in Wilmette, Ill., defeating Massachusetts 8-4 after the two teams finished the six-day tournament with 9-2 records.
March 20, 1972
HOCKEY—New York closed the gap between itself and East leader Boston to six points. The Rangers walloped Vancouver 6-1 as Brad Park became only the third defenseman in NHL history to reach 20 goals, tied Chicago 3-3 (Rod Gilbert scored his 40th goal, giving the Rangers the first line ever to have three 40-goal men) and defeated Detroit 4-2. The Black Hawk tie snapped the Rangers' seven-game win string, but the Red Wing victory kept alive New York's 16-game unbeaten streak, longest in the league this season. Boston, meanwhile, dropped two of three, including a 2-0 shutout by Los Angeles that stopped the Bruins' nine-game win streak and 24-game home unbeaten string. Despite the Rangers' furious pace, third-place Montreal moved to within six points of second with a 4-0 win over Philadelphia on Ken Dryden's eighth shutout and Yvan Cournoyer's hat trick, a 5-4 victory over Pittsburgh in which the Canadiens were outshot 38-34, a 5-1 drubbing of St. Louis for Montreal's eighth straight win and a 1-1 tie with runaway West leader Chicago.
HORSE RACING—TRIPLE BEND ($6.80), Donald Pierce up, won the $170,000 Santa Anita Handicap by a head over favored Cougar II (page 14).
Hold your peace ($6.40), ridden by Carlos Marquez, defeated Florida Derby winner Upper Case by 10 lengths in the $107,760 Flamingo Stakes at Hialeah with Tarboosh a head farther back in third place.
FIGURE SKATING—Olympic champions ONDREJ NEPELA of Czechoslovakia and BEATRIX SCHUBA of Austria successfully defended their men's and women's singles titles at the world championships in Calgary, Alberta while Olympic gold medalists IRINA RODNINA and SERGEI ULANOV of the U.S.S.R. won their fourth straight pairs title.
TENNIS—NANCY GUNTER defeated Billie Jean King 7-6, 6-1 to take the $30,000 Maureen Connolly Brinker tournament in Dallas (page 10).
TRACK & FIELD—SOUTHERN CAL won the NCAA indoor championships at Detroit's Cobo Arena with 19 points, edging Bowling Green and Michigan State, who tied for second, by one point; defending champion Villanova finished fourth with 13 points. Individual winners for USC were HENRY HINES in the long jump (25'10") and DOUG LANE in the shotput (64'3½") while HERB WASHINGTON won the 60-yard dash in 6.1 and KEN POPELOY took the mile in 4:02.9 for the Spartans. Bowling Green got most of its points from DAVE WOTTLE and SID SINK. Wottle won the 880 in 1:51.8, defeating Villanova's Brian McElroy, and Sink took the two-mile run; both ran on the winning distance medley relay team. Meet records were set by Colgate's CHRIS DUNN in the high jump (7'2¾"), Alabama's JAN JOHNSON in the pole vault (17'1¼"), JACQUES ACCAMBRAY of Kent State in the 35-pound weight throw (71'3¾") and BARRY McCLURE of Middle Tennessee State in the triple jump (52'10¼")
Viktor Saneyev of the U.S.S.R. broke his world indoor triple jump record with 55'8¼" at the European indoor championships in Grenoble, France and Hungary's ISTVAN MAJOR barely missed Valery Brumel's 1961 high jump mark by half an inch with a 7'4¼" leap.
WRESTLING—IOWA STATE, led by 405-pound CHRIS TAYLOR (SI, March 6), who took the heavyweight title, won the NCAA championships in College Park, Md. for the third time in four years as Michigan State finished second and defending champion Oklahoma State third.
MILEPOSTS—FIRED: As head basketball coach at LSU, PRESS MARAVICH, 51, after a 10-16 season. Maravich, who had his greatest success when his son Pete played for him, compiled a 76-86 record in six seasons at LSU.
LOST: By WESTERN KENTUCKY, third place in last year's NCAA basketball championships and its $66,000 tournament share because Center Jim McDaniels had signed a pro contract before the season was over. McDaniels offered to repay the money himself.
NAMED: As general manager of the Milwaukee Bucks, WAYNE EMBRY, 34, an NBA center with the Royals, Celtics and Bucks for 11 seasons, making him the first black GM in major league sports.
DIED: Hall of Fame Outfielder ZACK WHEAT, 83, who had a lifetime batting average of .317 in 19 seasons (1909-1927) with the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Athletics; of a heart attack; in Sedalia, Mo.