PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Cleveland and Washington began the week tied for the Central Division lead. The Bullets lost to Buffalo 115-105, blowing a 13-point lead in the fourth quarter. Cleveland won its fifth in a row, 114-111 over Buffalo, Jim Chones' 29 points assuring the Cavaliers of finishing the week in sole possession of first. Boston and Golden State control their divisions, with races developing for second place. Fred Carter and Doug Collins combined for 59 points as Philadelphia won its fourth straight, 134-109 over Houston, and moved into a tie for second with Buffalo in the Atlantic. In the Pacific, Seattle halted a three-game losing streak 93-90 against New Orleans, beat Atlanta 119-102 and Portland 122-108 when Bruce Seals netted a career-high 29 points, and moved to within two games of second-place Los Angeles. Following Portland's 109-105 loss to Golden State it was learned that Bill Walton had a fractured leg and will be sidelined for five weeks. The loss to Seattle was the Blazers' fourth in a row and dropped them back to the cellar. Milwaukee was the only Midwest team to win so much as a game. With two victories, 109-95 over New York and 95-89 against Chicago, the 23-32 Bucks took a firm hold on first place. In any other division they would be last.
ABA: Denver's formula for success is simple: put David Thompson, Dan Issel and Ralph Simpson on the court, grab an eight-game lead in a league that has only one division and keep winning. The system works even better if you personally take care of the runner-up, in this case, New York. The Nets bowed to the Nuggets 138-119, split a pair with St. Louis and then faced Denver again. This time the Nets squandered a 24-point first-half lead, allowed Simpson to score his 10,000th career point and lost 108-103 in overtime. The defeat put the Nets eight games behind the Nuggets and one game ahead of third-place San Antonio, which won its seventh of nine games, 128-107 over Indiana, as James Silas scored 25 points. In a 105-101 rematch the Spurs kicked the Pacers farther back into fifth place. Even with three wins, St. Louis could not gain on Denver, so the Spirits settled for picking up 2½ games on fifth-place Indiana. They defeated the Pacers 127-126 when Marvin Barnes hit a 20-foot jumper with three seconds left in overtime to cap his own 28 points. Indiana's Len Elmore scored a career-high 35.
BOWLING—CURT SCHMIDT defeated top-seeded Dave Davis 246-163 to win the $70,000 PBA Fair Lanes Open Bowling Tournament in Towson, Md.
GOLF—Defending champion J. C. SNEAD shot a 16-under-par 272 to win the Andy Williams-San Diego Open by one stroke over Don Bies.
February 23, 1976
JoAnne Carner won the Orange Blossom Classic by defeating Sandra Palmer on the fourth hole of sudden death, after each shot a seven-under-par 209 at St. Petersburg, Fla.
PRO HOCKEY—NHL: Boston has lost only twice since Christmas so the return of 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup Goalie Gerry Cheevers from the WHA must seem like an example of the rich getting richer to Buffalo, which trails the Bruins in the Adams Division by six points. In his first NHL game since 1972 Cheevers stopped 22 shots and shut out Detroit 7-0. Philadelphia widened its Patrick lead over the Islanders to 13 points and Reggie Leach increased his league goal-scoring lead to 39 with two scores in the Flyers' fifth straight win, a 5-3 defeat of the Rangers. Vancouver broke its three-game losing streak by beating the Islanders 3-2 and followed that with a 6-4 defeat of Montreal and a 4-3 win over Toronto. The Canucks now trail Smythe leader Chicago, which lost 7-4 to Los Angeles, by eight points, Mickey Redmond, the Red Wings' two-time 50-goal scorer, found himself suspended by disgruntled Coach Alex Delvecchio after the Mayo Clinic predicted a slow and uncertain recovery from a back injury. Montreal dominates the Norris Division, with Pete Mahovlich and Guy Lafleur delivering the scoring punch; Lafleur got his 36th goal in a 6-1 defeat of St. Louis and Mahovlich scored Nos. 26 and 27 in the loss to Vancouver.
WHA: Minnesota began to climb out of the West cellar, a 6-3 defeat of San Diego pulling the Fighting Saints into a tie for third with the Mariners. Minnesota won a rematch, 4-2, to deadlock Phoenix for second. Houston, leading in the West by 10 points, halted Phoenix' nine-game home winning streak, a 4-1 defeat temporarily dropping the Roadrunners into third. After knocking off Minnesota 5-2 they moved back up. The league's six leading scorers skate for either Winnipeg or Quebec, the top two teams in the Canadian Division. When the two clubs met, Quebec's trio of Marc Tardif (No. 1), Serge Bernier (No. 5) and Buddy Cloutier (No. 6) scored all but one of the Nordiques' goals in a 6-4 victory, which enabled them to climb to within five points of the Jets. New England held firm to its lead in the East and Indianapolis stayed in last place.
MOTOR SPORTS—DAVID PEARSON nursed his Mercury "a quarter of a mile" to victory in the $343,300 Daytona 500 after crashing with Richard Petty just short of the flag (page 50).
WINTER OLYMPICS—BIATHLON: Relay—1) U.S.S.R. (Elizarov, Biakov, Kruglov, Tihonov), 2) Finland, 3) E. Germany.
BOBSLED: 4-man—1) EAST GERMANY I (Nehmer, Babock, Germeshausen, Lehmann) 2) Switzerland Q, 3) W. Germany I.
CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING: 10 km., Women—1) RAISA SMETANINA (U.S.S.R.), 2) Helena Tukkalo (Finland), 3) Galina Kulakova (U.S.S.R.); 50 km., Men—1) IVAR FORMO (Norway), 2) Gert-Dietmar Klause (E. Germany), 3) Benny Soe-dergren (Sweden); Nordic-combined—1) ULRICH WEHLING (E. Germany), 2) Urban Hettich (W. Germany), 3) Konrad Winkler (E. Germany); 40-km. relay, Men—1) FINLAND (Pitkaenen, Mieto, Teurajaervi, Koivisto), 2) Norway, 3) U.S.S.R.; 20-km. relay, Women—1) U.S.S.R. (Baldicheva, Amosova, Smetanina, Kulakova) 2) Finland, 3) E. Germany.
FIGURE SKATING: Women—1) DOROTHY HAMILL (U.S.A.), 2) Dianne de Leeuw (The Netherlands), 3) Christine Errath (E. Germany); Men—1) JOHN CURRY (Great Britain), 2) Vladimir Kovalev (U.S.S.R.), 3) Toller Cranston (Canada); Dance Pairs—1) PAKHOMOVA and GORSHKOV (U.S.S.R.), 2) Moiseeva and Minenov (U.S.S.R.), 3) O'Connor and Millns (U.S.A.).
HOCKEY: 1) U.S.S.R., 2) Czechoslovakia, 3) W. Germany.
LUGE: Doubles—1) RINN and HAHN (E. Germany), 2) Brandner and Schwarm (W. Germany), 3) Schmid and Schachner (Austria).
SKIING: Giant Slalom, Men—1) HEINI HEMMI (Switzerland), 2) Ernst Good (Switzerland), 3) Ingemar Stenmark (Sweden); Women—1) KATHY KREINER (Canada), 2) Rosi Mittermaier (W. Germany), 3) Danielle Debernard (France); Slalom, Men—1) PIERO GROS (Italy), 2) Gustavo Th√∂ni (Italy), 3) Willy Frommelt (Liechtenstein); Women—1) MITTERMAIER, 2) Claudia Giordani (Italy), 3) Hanni Wenzel (Liechtenstein).
SKI JUMPING: 90-meters—1) KARL SCHNABL (Austria), 2) Toni Innauer (Austria), 3) Henry Glass (E. Germany).
SPEED SKATING: Men, 500 meters—1) YEVGENY KULIKOV (U.S.S.R.), 2) Valery Muratov (U.S.S.R.), 3) Dan Immerfall (U.S.A.); 1,000 meters—1) PETER MUELLER (U.S.A.), 2) Jorn Didriksen (Norway), 3) Muratov; 1,500 meters—1) JAN EGIL STORHOLT (Norway), 2) Yury Kondakov (U.S.S.R.), 3) Hans van Helden (The Netherlands); 5,000 meters—1) STEN STENSEN (Norway), 2) Piet Kleine (The Netherlands), 3) van Helden; 10,000 meters—1) KLEINE, 2) Stensen, 3) van Helden.
SQUASH—GEOFF HUNT of Australia was declared the first world champion after beating Mohibullah Khan of Pakistan 7-9, 9-4, 8-10, 9-2, 9-2 in the Lucas British Open in London.
TENNIS—BJORN BORG beat Vitas Gerulaitis 2-6, 6-3, 6—1 to win the WCT event in Toronto.
TRACK & FIELD—WLADYSLAW KOZKIEVICZ of Poland broke the week-old world amateur indoor record in the pole vault by½" by clearing 18'3½" at the Toronto Star Maple Leaf Indoor Games.
MILEPOSTS—ELECTED: To the Baseball Hall of Fame, OSCAR CHARLESTON, player and coach in the Negro leagues from 1918 until his death at age 58 in 1954. A first baseman and outfielder, his 29-year career average was approximately .380.
HIRED: DICK VERMEIL, 39, and LOU HOLTZ, 39, as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Jets, respectively. Vermeil had a two-year record of 15-5-3 at UCLA, including a victory in the 1976 Rose Bowl. He reportedly signed a five-year, $850,000 contract. Holtz coached at North Carolina State for four seasons, compiling a 33-12-3 record, including four bowl appearances. His five-year pact is for a reported $375,000. TERRY DONAHUE, 31, a UCLA assistant, replaced Vermeil.