PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Milwaukee Coach Larry Costello, having nothing else to ponder (his Bucks at 24-4 enjoy the best record in either pro league), wondered aloud about modern players' lack of enthusiasm and drive: "Now you don't have everybody busting their tails anymore. They figure they can catch on with some other club." The Bucks' Bobby Dandridge need not worry about catching on with another club, especially after leading Milwaukee to wins over Houston, Portland and Philadelphia with 28-, 25- and 14-point games. Chicago, the original "we try harder" gang, kept pace with the Bucks in the Midwest with four wins as Norm Van Lier, Jerry Sloan, Bob Love and Chet Walker took turns being Bull-ish. In the Atlantic Division New York moved to within 5½ games of Boston (2-1) with a 117-100 rout of Atlanta as Henry Bibby scored a pro-high 22 points. The Celtics, meanwhile, away from the friendly confines of Boston Garden, lost to Chicago 112-95. In the Central race, Capital (1-2) held a slim lead over Atlanta, which lost three of three despite the heavy scoring of Pete Maravich (81 points) and Lou Hudson (76). In the Pacific, Golden State bumped off Los Angeles 135-111 to climb into first place (page 26).
ABA: The hottest team in either league, the New York Nets, have singed the opposition for 14 wins in their last 16 games and closed to within decimal points of second-place Kentucky with a 102-87 thrashing of the once-mighty Colonels. Julius Erving led the Nets' surge with performances such as that against Memphis on Friday, when the Doctor had 29 points, eight rebounds, three steals, six assists and four blocked shots. Rookie Larry Kenon (78 points in four games) filled a heady supporting role. Carolina was a 121-103 victim of New York but recovered to beat Virginia and Memphis and hold a 3½-game lead over sagging Kentucky (0-2) and New York. In the Western Division, Utah (2-1) whipped Denver (1-2) 121-111 and reclaimed first place as Zelmo Beaty scored 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. Indiana won three of four and remained only percentage points behind Utah.
PRO FOOTBALL—After the dust had settled from direct confrontations for divisional supremacy and playoff possibilities, only two things were certain: Buffalo's O. J. Simpson was the week's best runner (after one more Sunday he could become history's best too) and St. Louis' Jim Bakken was the week's best kicker. BUFFALO stampeded NEW ENGLAND 37-13 as O.J. led the land rush with 219 yards in 22 carries, a prodigious feat even more remarkable in light of the fact he had only 43 yards at the end of the first half. With a game left, O.J. is now only 60 yards shy of Jim Brown's alltime single-season rushing record. ST. LOUIS kicked ATLANTA 32-10, possibly out of a playoff spot, as that man Bakken booted six field goals and two PATs to become the fifth player in NFL history to compile 1,000 career points. Elsewhere among the playoff hopefuls CINCINNATI met and conquered the CLEVELAND jinx 34-17; OAKLAND rushed KANSAS CITY right out of the Coliseum 37-7; and DALLAS stomped WASHINGTON 27-7, putting to rest all that speculation on point spreads (page 22) And out in San Diego, DENVER'S sore-armed old quarterback, Charley Johnson, threw two touchdown passes to lead the Broncos to a 42-28 rout of SAN DIEGO and keep their chances flickering. PITTSBURGH remained in a first-place tie with Cincinnati in the AFC Central by blasting hapless HOUSTON 33-7 on two touchdown passes by Terry Bradshaw and four Roy Gerela field goals. BALTIMORE shocked MIAMI 16-3 in a game that saw Lydell Mitchell run 35 times for 104 yards, including seven straight plays before Marty Domres hit Tom Mitchell from two yards out for the final touchdown in the third quarter. NEW ORLEANS edged SAN FRANCISCO 16-10 as Archie Manning found Jubilee Dunbar on a 37-yard scoring play and Bill McClard kicked three field goals. MINNESOTA, indignant at two defeats in three games, destroyed GREEN BAY 31-7 as Fran Tarkenton threw twice for scores and Bobby Bryant intercepted three Packer aerials. DETROIT clawed CHICAGO 40-7 for second place behind the Vikings. PHILADELPHIA squeezed by the Namath-less NEW YORK JETS 24-23 when John Outlaw returned an interception 45 yards for a touchdown. Roman Gabriel completed 14 of 25 passes for 214 yards and two TDs.
HOCKEY—NHL: To prove that some things never change: Phil Esposito and Bobby Orr were again the keys as Boston (2-0) remained atop the East. Espo scored his 25th goal of the year and assisted twice and Orr matched him with a goal and an assist in the Bruins' 5-3 whipping of the New York Islanders. And when the Bruins took Buffalo 5-2 to stay unbeaten in 11 games, Esposito accounted for one goal and one assist and Orr added another goal. Montreal beat Atlanta 3-1 and the Islanders twice, powered by its own dynamic duo, Frank Mahovlich (one goal, three assists) and Jacques Lemaire (three goals). New York's rapid-fire shooting machine, the Rangers (54 goals in their last 11 games), ran into Buffalo's "New Connection" line of Gerry Meehan (one goal and two assists), Rick Dudley (three goals, one assist) and Jim Lorentz (two goals and four assists) and lost 8-4, but the Rangers remained in third ahead of Toronto (1-1) and Buffalo (2-1). Philadelphia continued to lead the West in brawn and points with a three-point advantage over Chicago. Philly beat California 5-1 in a brawling contest that saw the Seals' Barry Cummins hit Flyer Captain Bobby Clarke on the head with his stick. Clarke required 20 stitches but returned in Philly s 3-1 win over Toronto six days later.
December 17, 1973
WHA: Minnesota's version of the Walton Gang—Center Mike and younger brother Rob—lifted the Fighting Saints into second place, five points behind Western leader Edmonton. Mike, who brought a winning habit with him from the NHL Boston Bruins, registered his second hat trick of the season as Minnesota beat Los Angeles 9-2. Rob, the Western League's leading scorer last year, had one goal and two assists in that game. Then Mike had a stick in all of Minnesota's scoring in a 3-1 win over Vancouver with one goal and two assists. Mike added another goal and an assist in the 4-1 decision over Quebec for the Saints' 10th win in 15 games. Elsewhere in the West, Winnipeg shook off its doldrums and won three straight, including a 3-1 victory over league leader Edmonton, which finished the week 2-2. In the East, Cleveland (2-1) edged in front of Quebec and closed to within two points of first-place New England.
HORSE RACING—FOREGO ($3.20), ridden by Heliodoro Gustines, won the 29th running of the $55,500 Discovery Handicap by three-quarters of a length over My Gallant at Aqueduct.
Canadian Jockey SANDY HAWLEY, 24, brought Night Train Lane home first in the fifth race at Laurel for his 486th win of the year, breaking Willie Shoemaker's 20-year-old record of 485 wins in a season.
RODEO—Dallas cowboy LARRY MAHAN collected $6,545 at the National Finals in Oklahoma City, giving him an alltime high of $64,446 in earnings for the year and an unprecedented sixth all-round championship (page 71).
SKIING—HANSI HINTERSEER, of Austria, son of the 1960 Squaw Valley slalom gold medalist, Ernst Hinterseer, won the men's giant slalom in the opener of the World Cup racing season at Val D'Isere over Italy's Helmut Schmalzl and Piero Gros. CHRISTA ZECHMEISTER of West Germany won her first major race, the women's slalom.
TENNIS—ILIE NASTASE scored a 6-3, 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 victory over Tom Okker to win the Grand Prix Masters and $15,000 in Boston (page 30).
TRACK & FIELD—FRANK SHORTER, the Olympic gold medalist, won the Fukuoka (Japan) International marathon for the third straight year. Shorter led all the way and finished in 2:11:45 to capture his seventh career marathon, bettering the 1964 time of the late Abebe Bikila of Ethiopia.
MILEPOSTS—AWARDED: The Heisman Trophy for "the outstanding collegiate football player in the United States" to Penn State Tailback JOHN CAP-PELLETTI, by a margin of 533 points over Offensive Tackle John Hicks of Ohio State. Cappelletti gained 1,522 yards in 11 games this season.
DESTROYED: COUNT FLEET, the 1943 Triple Crown winner, at the age of 33, at Stoner Creek Farm, Ky., leaving Secretariat as the only living winner of the Triple Crown.
NAMED: As football coach by the University of Virginia, SONNY RANDLE, 37, replacing Don Lawrence. Randle, the former All-Pro wide receiver for the St. Louis Cardinals, had a three-year record of 22-10 at East Carolina.
NAMED: FRANKLIN (Pepper) RODGERS, as head football coach at his alma mater, Georgia Tech, after a 19-12-1 record in three years at UCLA. He succeeds Bill Fulcher, who resigned earlier.
DIED: JIMMY CANNON, 63, syndicated sports columnist who was a protégé of Damon Runyon; in New York City; after a long illness.
DIED: JAMES A. MULVEY, 74, a vice-president of the Brooklyn and Los Angeles Dodgers since 1937; in Vero Beach, Fla.