PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: "We're going to be one of the better teams around eventually, but we're just trying to get it together this year," claimed Detroit Coach Ray Scott. "Eventually" became "right now" for the Pistons last week as they won three of four against three division leaders, downing Midwest monarch Milwaukee 98-91 and 106-92 and Boston 106-101 before bowing to Capital 93-90. Dave Bing was the Detroit pilot and Bob Lanier the power of the Pistons' attack; Bing had 64 points in the three wins and Lanier 83 points and 42 rebounds. Milwaukee still led Chicago by 3½ games and Detroit by seven, despite losing two of four games and two starters (Oscar Robertson and Bob Dandridge) to injuries. The return of injured strongman Wes Unseld, who had 18 rebounds and held Bob Lanier to four points in the second half, against Detroit, helped Capital maintain a three-game lead on Atlanta in the Central Division. The Hawks won three of five behind their two nominees to the Eastern All-Star team, Lou Hudson and Pete Maravich. Another Eastern All-Star, Boston's Dave Cowens, showed why he beat out Buffalo's Bob McAdoo for the starting center spot with 23 points and 24 rebounds as Boston beat Philadelphia 106-97. The Celtics then, for the second time this year, lost two in a row, to KC-Omaha and to Detroit. Cowens later tallied six of his 21 points in overtime to boost Boston over Philly 108-102. Trailing Boston in the Atlantic Division, New York ran a winning streak to five with a 92-81 win over Capital. Then the Knicks lost two in a row, to Philly 78-75 and Buffalo 111-110. In the Pacific, Los Angeles downed Golden State 114-111 and opened up a three-game lead on the Warriors, who have lost 9 of their last 12.
ABA: Kentucky moved back into the divisional lead by bullying weaker teams in the East, beating last-place Memphis twice, 145-101 and 125-102, and Virginia 110-109. The Colonels at that point were taken 100-92 by Indiana, but remained one-half game ahead of Carolina. The Cougars, too, had field days against Memphis and Virginia, winning 133-118 and 122-104, but ran into trouble against legitimate contenders. New York (page 38) shot 57% in the first half and caged the Cougars 99-96 as the Doctors J and K (for Kenon) combined for 45 points. Then West leader Utah downed Carolina 100-98. New York, only one game back in the East race, received superb play from Erving (34 points, 11 rebounds, six blocked shots) again in a 102-92 whipping of Denver, but stumbled 112-109 to Virginia as George Gervin held Dr. J to 19 points while scoring 25 himself. Indiana ran its win streak to five and trailed Utah by two in the West. Third-place San Antonio won two of four as William (Bird) Averitt let fly for 88 points.
BOWLING—DICK RITGER of Hartford, Wis. took first place in the highest scoring finale in the 15-year professional history of the sport to win the $100,000 Midas Open in Alameda, Calif. Ritger outrolled Bob Strampe of Detroit 247-227 to win $14,000. The tournament was highlighted by a perfect 300 game from Jim Stefanich of Joliet, Ill.
HARNESS RACING—Owner-trainer John Walker Sr. drove STAR SHOT ($13) to victory in his first race, the $38,758 Florida Breeders Stake for 2-year-old trotters at Pompano Park. The Blaze Hanover colt won by two lengths over Arthurs Freight in a stake record time of 2:07[1/5] for the mile race.
HOCKEY—NHL: Amidst murmurs of despair by Ranger players and the full-throated derision of Madison Square Garden throngs when the team was at home, the New Yorkers lost three of four and tumbled into a third-place tie with Toronto in the East. Montreal routed the Rangers 7-1; in Philadelphia the Flyers rode Dave Schultz' hat trick, his NHL first ever and the team's first of the year, to a 4-2 win over the Rangers; then back in Fun City, Boston rallied from a 0-2 deficit to frustrate the New Yorkers 4-2. Interspersed in these gloomy proceedings, New York did have some fun against Minnesota, 4-3. Well, at least the Ranger defensemen had fun—outshooting the forwards 19 to 17 and accounting for two goals. Meanwhile, atop the East, Boston rebounded from a 4-1 defeat by Los Angeles (only the Bruins' second loss in 19 games) by trouncing California 8-1. Then the boys from Bean-town collected a tie and two more wins to open up an eight-point lead on Montreal. The Canadiens won two of three, including a 5-3 whipping of Vancouver in which Y van Cournoyer added two assists to his 300th career goal. In the West, Philadelphia went undefeated in four games and widened its lead over Chicago to four points. St. Louis nudged ahead of Atlanta into third place with strong wins over Montreal, 8-4, and California, 4-1. Wayne Merrick (three goals) and Glen Sather were the Blues' movers.
WHA: Toronto had a torrid week, winning three of three and moving within four points of East leader New England, which lost three of four. The Toros shellacked Minnesota 9-3, crushed Winnipeg 5-2 and shut out Cleveland 3-0. No bull about the Toro trio of Wayne Carleton (four goals, four assists), Rick Sentes (two goals, five assists) and Wayne Dillon (four goals, three assists). Quebec had a beastly type of its own in Alan (Boom Boom) Caron, who upped his season's goal production to 22 with four in two games. But the Nordiques still were fourth. Houston led the West by one point with Minnesota in second. And in the All-Star clash the East whipped the West, which had a case of the nines—Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe both wore their own inimitable number. Final score: 8-4.
SKIING—ANNEMARIE PROELL-MOSER won her third straight World Cup downhill at Pfronten, West Germany, edging teammate Wiltrud Drexel by 1.32 seconds. In the men's slalom at Garmisch-Partenkirchen, CHRISTIAN NEUREUTHER upset Italy's Gustav Thoeni to give West Germany its first men's World Cup triumph of the season.
Otto Tschudi of Norway won the giant slalom and $4,000, defeating France's Alain Penz in the $30,000 Benson & Hedges Grand Prix at Mt. Snow, Vt. In the slalom SPIDER SABICH defeated Australian Mike Schwaiger.
SOCCER—ST. LOUIS UNIVERSITY won its 10th NCAA championship in the last 15 years with a 2-1 overtime decision over UCLA.
SWIMMING—Australian JENNY TURRALL, 13, set a world record in the women's 800-meter freestyle, beating the mark of Italy's Novella Caligaris by 2.9 seconds with a time of 8:50.1 in Sydney. Turrall's training partner, Sally Lockyer, 14, finished a stroke back at 8:50.3, also under the old record.
TENNIS—EVONNE GOOLAGONG defeated Chris Evert 7-6, 4-6, 6-0 to win her first Australian Open championship after reaching the final for the fourth straight year. JIMMY CONNORS became the fourth American to win the men's title since 1946, beating Australia's Phil Dent 7-6, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3.
In the first tournament devoted solely to mixed doubles, the $60,000 International Mixed Doubles Championship in Dallas, BILLIE JEAN KING and OWEN DAVIDSON defeated Rosie Casals and Marty Riessen 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4. King and Davidson each received a record $10,000 first prize, whereas for winning the Wimbledon and U.S. Open mixed titles last year King and Davidson shared a total of only $3,250.
MILEPOSTS—SIGNED: As manager of the New York Yankees, BILL VIRDON, former Pittsburgh Pirate skipper, to a one-year contract after the Yankee contract with Dick Williams was invalidated by American League President Joe Cronin. Virdon led the Pirates to the National League East title in 1972, but was fired last September with the Pirates only two games out of first place.
DIED: ARTHUR DALEY, 69, sports columnist for The New York Times, in New York; of an apparent heart attack. A graduate of Fordham, Daley joined the Times in 1926 and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for excellence in reporting in 1956.