PRO BASKETBALL—ABA: None of the New York starting five played as seniors in college, but the absence of that last prep year has not handicapped the young Nets, who have won 16 of their last 19 games, including two this week over Eastern leader Carolina. In the 107-97 Net triumph, Princeton's Brian Taylor provided the spark with 25 points on 11 for 15 shooting. In Charlotte three nights later, rookies Larry Kenon (24 points, 13 rebounds) and John Williamson (24 points), who left Memphis State and New Mexico State, made the Cougars wrinkle visibly 99-95. At week's end the Nets trailed Carolina by 1½ games and resurgent Kentucky by one game. The Colonels, powered by Dan Issel, who averaged 33.3 points, won three of three. Utah soared to three wins and stayed atop the Western Division, one game ahead of surprising San Antonio (2-1), which was spurred on by a rookie who knows all about winning—Swen Nater of UCLA.
NBA: Chicago, the best second-place team in basketball, extended its winning streak to six games by beating Milwaukee, its Midwest nemesis, 97-94. Then at home the Bulls ran into Los Angeles, which had been hurting from a five-game losing streak, and lost 100-97. Chicago Guard Norm Van Lier, who went scoreless, insisted that "When you play the Lakers, it's like playing the Hollywood Stars because when you touch one of them, you're going to get a foul called." Van Lier vented his frustrations the next night on Houston, scoring 30 points as the Bulls won 104-100 to stay within two games of Milwaukee (2-1). In the West, Cazzie Russell, replacing injured Clyde Lee, led Golden State to a 114-107 win over Houston with a pro career high of 49 points. The Warriors lost their next two, but led the Lakers by ½ game. Capital won three of four in the Central behind solid performances by Elvin Hayes (90 points in four games) and Mike Riordan and maintained a healthy lead on fading Atlanta. In the East, Buffalo's Bob McAdoo, the league's most prolific scorer, did everything but go into orbit against first-place Boston, scoring 49 points one night and 42 three nights later, but the Braves still lost twice to the Celtics, 118-114 and 126-119. New York (2-0) was in second place ahead of Buffalo (2-2).
BOXING—JERRY QUARRY scored a technical knockout over Earnie Shavers at 2:21 of the first round of a heavyweight fight at Madison Square Garden.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—LOUISIANA TECH became the NCAA College Division II champion with a 34-0 rout of Western Kentucky in the Camellia Bowl in Sacramento.
December 24, 1973
PRO FOOTBALL—After 14 weeks the NFL season ended in a spate of snow shows and no-shows—but the whole show on the last Sunday really belonged to BUFFALO'S O.J. Simpson, who churned up 200 yards against the NEW YORK Jets for a record-breaking 2,003 this year. The Bills won 34-14 (page 26). In mid-20° temperatures, DALLAS stomped ST. LOUIS 30-3 to win the NFC East title and will go to the playoffs for a record seventh straight year. Roger Staubach completed 14 of 19 passes for 256 yards and three touchdowns, two to rookie Drew Pearson. WASHINGTON drew the NFC wild-card playoff spot by beating PHILADELPHIA 38-20. As snow fell in the nation's capital, Billy Kilmer tossed four touchdown passes and Larry Brown scored four times. The Eagles' Roman Gabriel was no stiff either, finishing with 22 for 39 and 302 yards passing. CINCINNATI edged HOUSTON 27-24 to win the AFC Central Division. Bengal Quarterback Ken Anderson threw for three touchdowns, two to rookie receiver Isaac Curtis for 77 and 67 yards. Some 11,637 Houston ticketholders didn't show up. Second-place PITTSBURGH downed SAN FRANCISCO 37-14 and wrapped up a playoff berth as the AFC's wild-card team. The Steelers showed no respect for the 49ers' John Brodie in his farewell performance. John Rowser intercepted two passes, one for a 71-yard touchdown. Roy Gerela kicked three field goals. OAKLAND won the AFC West showdown with DENVER 21-17 when Ken Stabler hit Mike Siani on a 31-yard scoring pass. MIAMI routed DETROIT 34-7 on four Griese-to-Warfield touchdowns. MINNESOTA whipped the NEW YORK Giants 31-7 with Fran Tarkenton passing for 130 yards on 10 of 14 completions. John Hadl threw for two touchdowns in pacing LOS ANGELES past CLEVELAND 30-17.
Entering their winters of discontent, GREEN BAY mauled CHICAGO 21-0 as 26,544 fans stayed home. Packer Quarterback Jerry Tagge found Jon Staggers twice for touchdowns. KANSAS CITY scalped SAN DIEGO 33-6. Jan Stenerud was the chief Chief, hitting on four field goals, but 35,793 no-shows didn't make the game. ATLANTA beat NEW ORLEANS 14-10 and BALTIMORE squeezed by NEW ENGLAND 18-13.
HOCKEY—NHL: After Chicago's Stan Mikita finished his 1,000th NHL game, contributing two assists in the Black Hawks' 5-3 win over Minnesota, Defenseman Phil Russell said, "C'mon, Stan, why don't you tell them you're not getting older, you're just getting better." Mikita didn't have to tell anybody, he just showed them—adding one goal and two assists in two Chicago ties as the Black Hawks closed to within a point of first-place Philadelphia in the West. Atlanta also gained ground on the Flyers by beating them in Philadelphia 3-2. Flame Goal-tender Phil Myre stopped 33 shots. East Division leader Boston remained unbeaten in 14 games with two wins and a tie. Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito combined for nine goals and six assists. Montreal had an unbeaten streak of its own going—extending it to six with a 6-2 rout of Los Angeles—but still trailed Boston by seven points. New York (1-0-2) received consistent scoring from Pete Stemkowski and held third over neck-breathers Toronto (1-2-1) and Buffalo (1-1-1), whose Rick Martin has assumed most of the scoring thrust with Gil Perreault still out of the French Connection line. Martin scored his 99th and 100th career goals in the Sabres' 5-2 win over Toronto.
WHA: Houston played a version of "Howe do we beat thee? Let us count the ways," as the Aeros won three of four and surged to within one point of West leader Edmonton, which lost twice. Houston's venerable Gordie Howe didn't score any goals but collected six assists, including two in a 5-2 whipping of Minnesota (1-2). The Aeros' Frank Hughes, the league's fourth-best scorer, picked up his 23rd goal in the 3-2 victory over Winnipeg (2-1). But the Jets hung in a third-place tie with Minnesota when Bobby Hull tallied his 19th goal to beat Los Angeles 1-0. In the East, New England began to look like the WHA champions they are with three wins in three games and a six-point lead over the second-place triumvirate Quebec, Toronto and Cleveland. But the distinction of the week belonged to Toronto's Wayne Carleton (one goal, 6 assists), who was selected to the East All-Star team as both a center and a left wing by the vote of fellow players.
HORSE RACING—PARAJE ($5.20), who has never won any other stakes race, continued his mastery of the $56,400 Display Handicap at Aqueduct, winning the 2-mile event for the third straight year, by three lengths over Everton II. The 7-year-old horse, ridden by Jorge Velasquez, set a track record of 3:47[4/5] for the distance.
Better Arbitor ($9.40), with Carlos Barrera up, won the fifth running of the $100,000 Heritage Stakes for 2-year-olds at Liberty Bell Park by four lengths over Heavy Mayonnaise.
MILEPOSTS—ANNOUNCED: The expansion of the North American Soccer League to the West Coast in 1974 with new franchises in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Vancouver and Seattle.
DISMISSED: TOM CAHILL, 54, head football coach at Army, after the Cadets finished a disastrous 0-10 by losing to Navy 51-0. Cahill had an eight-year record of 40-39-2 and was voted 1966 Coach of the Year by the American Coaches Association.
HIRED: As football coach at UCLA, DICK VERMEIL, 37, currently an assistant coach with the NFL Los Angeles Rams. Also named to head coaching posts at East Carolina and Villanova were PAT DYE, 34, formerly an assistant at Alabama, and JIM WEAVER, 28, who prepped under Joe Paterno at Penn State.
RESIGNED: Head football coach of the New York Giants, ALEX WEBSTER, 42. In five years with the Giants, Webster had a 29-40-1 record and was named NFC Coach of the Year in 1970. The club finished this season at 2-11-1.
SIGNED: By the New York Yankees, former Oakland Manager DICK WILLIAMS, who quit the A's moments after they had beaten the Mets in the World Series, to a three-year contract at $80,000 per year. The Yankees risk a legal struggle with A's Owner Charlie Finley, who has refused to release Williams from his contract binding him to Oakland for two more years.
TRADED: Chicago Cubs Third Baseman RON SANTO to the Chicago White Sox for four players. Earlier, Santo had refused to be traded to the California Angels, becoming the first player to invoke a new rule that gives such refusal rights to 10-year major league veterans who have spent five years with one club.