BASKETBALL—NBA: Surprising Boston clinched the Atlantic Division title by winning four in a row, while defending champion New York dropped three of five to fall seven games behind. It was the Celtics' first divisional title in seven seasons. Fittingly, John Havlicek, one of the holdovers (the others: Tom Sanders and Don Nelson) from Boston's championship years, led the Celtics to their victories, scoring 41, 38, 36 and 35 points, which made him the alltime Boston career scoring leader (ahead of Bob Cousy) and popped him into 10th place on the NBA list with 17,093 points in 10 seasons. To the surprise of no one, Milwaukee won the Midwest title by moving 5½ games ahead of Chicago despite dropping two of five. In one of the losses, 123-107 to runaway Pacific champion Los Angeles, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar tossed in 50 points. In ABA jumper Charlie Scott's first two games for third-place Phoenix—which won't make the playoffs even though only five teams in the league have better records—the Suns upset the Bucks 110-106 and the Knicks 111-106 as he scored 11 and 23 points. Baltimore won its fifth in a row, 102-97 over Detroit, before losing to Cleveland 127-118 in overtime. The Bullets then rebounded with two more wins and clinched at least a tie for the Central Division title when Atlanta, 5½ games out, dropped two of five. Los Angeles moved within three games of the league single-season record of 68 wins with four victories to run its latest winning streak to six. Included in the string were the Lakers' 29th and 30th road victories, which set another NBA record.
ABA: With Kentucky pushing its record to 61-15 and its East lead to a staggering 19 games, the only suspense in the division was in the race between Virginia and New York for second place. The Squires, who held a seemingly insurmountable 6½-game lead over the Nets just two weeks ago, dropped three of four—making it four losses in live games since Charlie Scott packed his suitcase and wandered over to the NBA—and saw their lead dwindle to two games. New York, on the other hand, defeated Pittsburgh 125-116, Memphis 119-112 as Rick Barry scored 43 points, Carolina 147-127 for a club scoring record and Kentucky 109-108 on Bill Paultz' jump shot with four seconds left to extend the Nets' winning streak to six and snap the Colonels' 10-game string. Fifth-place Carolina, just about eliminated from a playoff spot, had a brief moment of excitement when Larry Miller popped in 67 points in a 139-125 win over Memphis to break Zelmo Beaty's month-old ABA record of 63. West champion Utah, 11 games ahead of runner-up Indiana, ran its latest winning streak to eight before losing two in a row.
College: In the first round of the National Invitation Tournament at New York's Madison Square Garden, co-favorite Maryland zipped by St. Joseph's 67-55 as Tom McMillen scored 22 points; the nation's second leading scorer, Richie Fuqua, tossed in 42 points to lead Oral Roberts to a 94-74 upset of co-favorite Memphis Stale; Lafayette upset Virginia 72-71 on Tracy Tripucka's 25 points; St. John's edged Missouri 82-81 in overtime; Jacksonville walloped Fordham 94-75; Syracuse beat Davidson 81-77; Princeton defeated Indiana 68-60; and Niagara walloped Texas-El Paso 76-57.
BOATING—ARGYLE CAMPBELL won the Congressional Cup, sailed in Cal 40 sloops, off Long Beach, Calif. (page 48).
March 27, 1972
HOCKEY—College: BOSTON UNIVERSITY retained its NCAA title, shutting out Cornell 4-0 in the finals in Boston (page 58).
NHL: New York lost about any chance it had of catching East leader Boston when it dropped two in a row for the first time this season. An unexpected 7-3 loss to California, in which rookie Goalie Gary Kurt stopped 40 shots for his first win in six starts, broke the Rangers' 16-game unbeaten streak. Then Chicago beat New York 3-1 as the loss of the injured Jean Ratelle, the Rangers' top scorer and playmaker, started to be felt. "In a close-checking game like this one, Ratelle could have made the difference," said Black Hawk Coach Billy Reay. "They're not the same without him. Everything functions around Ratelle." The Rangers' slide stopped with a 2-1 win over Detroit and a 5-3 victory over Philadelphia but left New York only four points ahead of third-place Montreal, which ran its unbeaten string to 12 games with three more wins on Frank Mahovlich's clutch shooting. In a 2-1 victory over Philadelphia, Mahovlich scored the winning goal with 1:04 to go, and in a 5-2 win over Toronto, Mahovlich had two goals and two assists. Boston, meanwhile, won one and tied one to hold a five-point lead over New York, while Toronto ran its unbeaten streak to seven before losing one and tying one, and held a firm grip on fourth place, six points ahead of Detroit. The closest race in the league was the battle for the two playoff spots behind Chicago and Minnesota in the West. At week's end, only three points separated St. Louis, California, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.
SKIING—GUSTAV TH√ñNI of Italy gained his second-straight men's Alpine World Cup with 154 points when he finished second in the last two cup events—the slalom and the giant slalom at Pra Loup, France. France's Henri Duvillard, who had led the point standings going into the final week's five events, finished second, for the second year in a row, with 142 points, while Edmund Bruggmann of Switzerland, winner of the last two giant slaloms, came in third with 140 points. ANNEMARIE PROELL of Austria, who had clinched the women's World Cup earlier in the season, finished second in the final giant slalom to end up with a record 269 points. France's Francoise Macchi(187) and Britt Lafforgue (128) followed Miss Proell in the standings.
TRACK & FIELD—DEBBIE HEALD set a world indoor women's mile record of 4:38.5 in leading the U.S. to a sweep of the U.S.-U.S.S.R. indoor meet in Richmond (page 16). Top performances were recorded by GEORGE FRENN, who exceeded his three-year-old world mark in the 35-pound weight throw by 11¼" with a 74'2¾" heave, and JOHN CRAFT, who set an American indoor record in the triple jump with a 55'5" leap, 7½" beyond the old mark.
MILEPOSTS—JUMPED: CHARLIE SCOTT, 23, the ABA's leading scorer, from the Virginia Squires to the Phoenix Suns of the NBA, claiming his contract had been voided. Scott became the third ABA player to switch leagues during the season in the past two years.
RESIGNED: STAN WATTS, 60, as head basketball coach at Brigham Young, for reasons of health. Watts, who won two NIT titles and eight conference championships in compiling a 431-260 record in 23 seasons at BYU, will be replaced by Assistant Coach GLENN POTTER, 34.
SHIFTED: The CINCINNATI Royals NBA franchise to Kansas City, effective at the end of the season, because of poor home attendance. "It was clear by last December the team was not going to make it in Cincinnati," said General Manager Joe Axelson. "Kansas City is a great basketball city. Cincinnati is not." Axelson failed to mention that the Royals had never won a divisional title, much less a league championship, in the 15 years since they moved from Rochester (where they took two titles and one championship), and had only five seasons over .500, the last one seven years ago.
DIED: Hall of Famer HAROLD (Pie) TRAYNOR, 72, considered the best third baseman in the history of baseball; of a respiratory ailment; in Pittsburgh. Traynor, a superlative fielder, amassed a .320 batting average in 17 seasons (1920-35, 1937) with the Pittsburgh Pirates, reaching .366 in 1930. He played in two World Series, getting nine hits for a .346 average against the Washington Senators in 1925, and managed the Pirates from 1934 through 1939.