PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Buffalo suspended league scoring leader Bob McAdoo in the continuing dispute over his complaints of a sprained back. The center sat out the Braves' 101-92 defeat of Atlantic leader Boston that ended a nine-game Celtic winning streak. But when McAdoo failed to make a trip to Philadelphia, his absence may well have made the difference: the Braves missed three easy tap-ins in the last 30 seconds and lost 96-95. McAdoo was reinstated for a rematch the next night and sparked a four-minute, 21-2 second-period scoring burst as the Braves won 130-105. The Knicks got their fourth straight victory, their longest winning streak this year, beating New Orleans 108-101 behind Spencer Haywood's 26 points. Pete Maravich, coming back after a six-week layoff, helped the Jazz beat Houston 101-99, scoring 13 of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and stealing the ball twice in the final minute. After winning seven in a row, Cleveland lost to Atlanta 98-97. The victory gave the Hawks sole possession of the Central lead as Washington lost 85-81 to Milwaukee. Detroit's club record of nine consecutive losses ended when Bob Lanier rejoined the Pistons after missing three games because of an ankle injury and scored 30 points in a 101-87 win over Chicago. Kansas City lost its ninth in a row, 103-87, to Detroit. Houston's 113-110 defeat of Golden State marked the end of the Warriors' 10-game winning streak. The Lakers notched their third straight win when Cazzie Russell came off the bench to score 30 points in a 109-100 defeat of Seattle.
ABA: The Denver crowd was a record 17,298, Julius Erving became the 10th man in league history to score 10,000 points and, at halftime, the Nets had Denver down 64-56. But when it was all over, the Nuggets had rallied to a 130-113 win, building their league lead to two games. On the other end of the scale, St. Louis, after drawing just 855 at home, scored its only victory in three road games, against lowly Virginia, 115-103. Indiana eased ahead of San Antonio into third place by beating the Spurs 111-106. Then San Antonio came back with a 117-106 defeat of Denver, but the Pacers held on by beating the Squires 97-94 as Dave Robisch hit for 23 points and collected 12 rebounds. At week's end, Denver's 110-105 victory over Indiana moved the Pacers back even with San Antonio, and the Nuggets' lead was 2½ games.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—ARIZONA STATE upset Nebraska 17-14 to win the Fiesta Bowl; USC beat Texas A&M 20-0 in the Liberty Bowl; PITTSBURGH outscored Kansas 33-19 in the Sun Bowl; MIAMI (of Ohio) defeated South Carolina 20-7 in the Tangerine Bowl; and TEXAS came from behind to win the Astro-Bluebonnet Bowl 38-21 over Colorado (page 48).
PRO FOOTBALL—NFL: Dallas eliminated Minnesota 17-14 when Roger Staubach threw a 50-yard touchdown pass to Drew Pearson with 24 seconds remaining (page 8). Los Angeles defeated St. Louis 35-23 and will face the Cowboys to pick the NFC Super Bowl entry. Defending champion Pittsburgh beat Baltimore 28-10. Oakland withstood a Cincinnati rally to win 31-28 and set up the AFC final.
January 5, 1976
HOCKEY—NHL: Marcel Dionne of Los Angeles and Rick Martin of Buffalo exchanged the league goal-scoring lead as their teams maintained positions, Buffalo first in the Adams Division, and Los Angeles second, behind Montreal, in the Norris. Dionne's third hat trick of the year gave him the scoring lead at 24 and the Kings a 4-3 win over Boston. The Sabres then met the Bruins, and while Martin scored goal No. 24, Buffalo lost 6-3. Dionne added another goal in a 9-4 defeat of Kansas City and, at week's end, Martin matched it in a 2-2 tie game against Chicago. Montreal played only once, beating Minnesota 2-1 when Bryan Hextall deflected a shot into his own net with 55 seconds remaining; the mishap boosted the Canadien unbeaten streak to 10 games. Philadelphia's Patrick Division lead was safe when a snowstorm in Detroit postponed the second-place Islanders' only game. After losing four games in a row, St. Louis won its first for new Coach Lynn Patrick, a 4-2 defeat of Vancouver. The victory boosted the Blues to within a point of the Smythe Division's second-place Canucks. Chicago stayed on top by winning its third in a row, 4-1, over Toronto.
WHA: New England's 4-1 trouncing of Cleveland moved the Whalers into a first-place tie with Cincinnati in the Eastern Division. Jack Kelley, general manager and head coach of the Whalers, resigned, saying, "I have followed the ladder. You take your successes and your ambitions, and finally I have done it all." Kelley will return to Maine's Colby College to resume the coaching job he left in 1963. Don Blackburn, a major-leaguer for 18 seasons, the last three with the Whalers, hung up his skates to take over as coach. His first effort behind the bench produced a 4-3 win over Cincinnati to advance the Whalers two points ahead of the Stingers, who lost three games during the week, including a 2-1 defeat by third-place Indianapolis. In the Canadian Division, Toronto Assistant General Manager Gilles Leger temporarily replaced Coach Bobby Baun, noting, "There will be a major shuffle, that's for sure." Before the Toros, who were nine points behind fourth-place Edmonton, met the Oilers, five players were sent to the minors and four were recalled. Toronto won 8-5 as regulars Paul Henderson and Richard Farda combined for five goals. Winnipeg stayed ahead of Quebec, Bobby Hull scoring four times in a 6-2 defeat of Edmonton and a 5-4 loss to Calgary, bringing his season total to 24. Houston maintained its Western lead as Gordie Howe boosted his career total to a record 860 goals in a 9-4 lashing of Denver.
HORSE RACING—STAINED GLASS ($7.80), ridden by Laffit Pincay Jr., won Santa Anita's $55.950 California Breeders Champion Stakes by 1½ lengths over Telly's Pop, owned by TV's Telly Savalas, in 1:22.2 for seven furlongs.
ROWING—OXFORD won the fifth annual Nile Regatta, beating Cologne Sport University of West Germany at Cairo. Harvard, the only U.S. crew, finished third.
SPEED SKATING—U.S. Olympic Trials at West Allis, Wis. produced a 15-member team headed by Olympians SHEILA YOUNG of Detroit, current world sprint champion; LEAH POULOS of Northbrook, Ill.; DAN CARROLL of Milwaukee; and newcomer PETER MUELLER of Mequon, Wis., who set a U.S. record at 1,000 meters (page 42).
TENNIS—MEXICO eliminated the U.S. from 1976 Davis Cup play 3-2, Raul Ramirez defeating Jimmy Connors 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 in the deciding match of the North American Zone semifinal at Mexico City.
MILEPOSTS—ANNOUNCED: A Jan. 24th wedding for FRANCIE LARRIEU, 23, world indoor mile record holder, and MARK LUTZ, 24, world-class sprinter. Both attend Long Beach State and run for the Pacific Coast Club.
FIRED: DICK NOLAN, 43, head coach of the San Francisco 49ers, whose eight-year tenure included three straight division titles (1970-72) followed by three losing seasons, and MIKE McCORMACK, 45, released by the Philadelphia Eagles after three non-winning seasons.
HIRED: BRUCE SNYDER, 35, former USC back-field coach, as head football coach at Utah State. Snyder replaces Phil Krueger, who will assist Snyder's former boss, John McKay, with the NFL Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
RULED: By Arbitrator Peter M. Seitz, that Pitchers ANDY MESSERSMITH of the Los Angeles Dodgers and DAVE McNALLY, who left the Montreal Expos on June 8, are free agents.
DIED: JIM McGLOTHLIN, 32, a 14-game winner for the 1970 pennant-winning Cincinnati Reds; after a lengthy illness; in Union. Ky. His career record of 67-77 includes three straight shutouts while with California in 1967.