PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: In the Midwest, Detroit rolled to its fifth victory in a row, beating New York 122-116, Kansas City 130-117, Chicago 85-77 and Portland 112-94. The skein propelled the 31-43 Pistons to within a game of division-leading Milwaukee, which was 1-3 for the week. Kansas City (1-2) was three games off the pace and the hapless Bulls were winless in three. Seattle (2-1), Phoenix (3-0) and Los Angeles (2-1) grappled for the second and third spots in the Pacific, third place assuring the conference's wild-card spot. The Suns' Paul Westphal hit a pro career-high 39 against the SuperSonics and 27 twice in games with Atlanta and Kansas City. Tops in the Central was Washington, in spite of a four-game losing streak which ended with a 99-84 pasting of the Bulls A game to the rear, Cleveland (1-2) suffered its second loss in its last 16 home appearances, 109-94 to Buffalo, prompting garrulous Cavalier Coach Bill Fitch to say, "I give them [the Braves] the game ball and we'll take the aspirin." Boston clinched the Atlantic Division with a 100-94 victory over New York. Earlier, the Knicks, sparked by Earl Monroe's 35 points, staved off elimination from the playoffs by derailing the Celtics 105-103.
ABA: After losing to Indiana 107-104, third-place San Antonio played heads-up ball, reeling off three straight against Denver 135-122, St. Louis 120-108 and Kentucky 108-90. New York, 5½ games behind the ever-golden Nuggets, won two with St. Louis and clinched no worse than third place and a semifinal playoff berth after edging the defending champion Colonels 109-106. The Nuggets beat Indiana twice, nipped Virginia in overtime and bowed to the Colonels 118-117. The cellar-dwelling Squires, boosted by rookie Guard Ticky Burden's 42 points, also tripped Kentucky 128-122.
BOWLING—MARK ROTH, of Staten Island, N.Y., defeated Larry Laub 235-202 in the finals of the $100,000 Rolaids Open in Florissant, Mo.
BOXING—RODRIGO VALDES of Colombia retained his WBC middleweight crown with a fourth-round TKO of France's Max Cohen in Paris.
April 5, 1976
Argentina's VICTOR GALINDEZ knocked out light-heavyweight challenger Harald Skog of Norway in the third round in Oslo to keep his WBA title.
CURLING—The U.S. rink from Hibbing, Minn. defeated Scotland 6-5 to win the world championship in Duluth (page 61).
GOLF—HUBERT GREEN won his third straight tournament, the Sea Pines Heritage Classic at Hilton Head Island, S.C., shooting a final-round two-over-par 73 for a 10-under 274, five strokes better than Jerry McGee (page 62).
GYMNASTICS—NADIA COMANECI, 14, of Rumania, and BART CONNER, 18, of Morton Grove, Ill., scoring an astonishing 39.75 (of 40) and 56.45 (of 60) points respectively, won the women's and men's American Cup titles at Madison Square Garden. Kathy Howard of Oklahoma City finished second to Comaneci, the European champion, with 38.10 points. Dan Grecu of Rumania and the U.S.S.R.'s Vladimir Markelov tied for second place behind Conner with 56.35 points.
COLLEGE HOCKEY—MINNESOTA upset defending champion Michigan Tech 6-4 for its second NCAA title in the last three years in Denver.
HOCKEY—NHL: The Chicago Black Hawks clung to a narrow lead in the Smythe over surging Vancouver. The Canucks skated past the Patrick runner-up New York Islanders 5-2 and split two games with Los Angeles. Patrick champion Philadelphia tied Minnesota 3-3, Boston 4-4 and slammed the New York Rangers 4-1. The previous night the Rangers were eliminated from the playoffs for the first time since 1966, falling to Buffalo 7-3. Boston clinched the Adams when the Bruins tied Montreal 2-2. Earlier they tied Pittsburgh and the Flyers and beat Chicago 4-2. Buffalo also defeated Washington 4-1 and Toronto 4-2, but could not catch the Bruins. Pittsburgh's Pierre Larouche became the youngest player in the league (20) to get 100 points in a season when he scored a goal in the Penguins' 5-5 tie with the Bruins. Pittsburgh and Los Angeles dueled for second place in the Norris, 41 and 42 points behind Montreal respectively.
WHA: New England retained its tenuous grip on first in the tight East, 38-year-old Ralph Backstrom scoring his 34th and 35th goals of the season for the Whalers in a 4-1 defeat of Calgary. A point behind, Indianapolis was 2-0-1 to extend its unbeaten string to nine. And a few points back of the Racers were Cleveland and Cincinnati, both 1-2 during the week. Canadian leader Winnipeg lost its only game 3-2 to Edmonton, while Quebec beat the Oilers 7-5 and Calgary 6-4, and fell to the Crusaders 3-1. Houston's Murray Hall scored three goals in the first period of a 5-1 rout of the Stingers. The Aeros split their two other games beating the Crusaders 3-2 then falling to the Racers. Phoenix lost to the Stingers and won a pair with San Diego.
HORSE RACING—AN ACT ($6.20), Laffit Pincay Jr. up, beat Double Discount by a neck to win the $157,700 Santa Anita Derby, covering the 1‚⅛ miles in 1:48. Favored Telly's Pop finished out of the money (page 52).
MOTOR SPORTS—CLAY REGAZZONI, of Switzerland, in a Ferrari, sped to an easy victory over Niki Lauda of Austria in the U.S. Grand Prix West in Long Beach, Calif. (page 22).
SOCCER—The TAMPA BAY ROWDIES won the NASL indoor soccer championship in St. Petersburg, Fla., beating the Rochester Lancers 6-4. Third place went to defending champion San Jose, which defeated Dallas 6-2.
SPEED SKATING—The U.S.S.R.'s GALINA STEPANSKAYA shattered her week-old 3,000-meter world record by 9.59 seconds, clocking a 4:31 in Kazakhstan, U.S.S.R.
SWIMMING—American records were set by TIM SHAW of Long Beach State in the 500 freestyle (4:19.05) and 1,650 free (15:06.76), by Indiana's JIM MONTGOMERY in the 200 free (1:36.53) and by USC's relay teams in the 400 free (2:57.54) and 800 free (6:33.13) in the NCAA championships in Providence, R.I. USC drubbed Tennessee 398-237 for the team title (page 24).
TENNIS—Winning her fourth tournament in her last six tries, EVONNE GOOLAGONG trounced Virginia Wade 6-2, 6-0 in the Virginia Slims tournament in Boston.
TRACK a FIELD—STEVE WILLIAMS equalled the world 100-meter record of 9.9 for the fourth time at the Florida Relays in Gainesville.
MILEPOSTS—AWARDED: To Toronto, an American League franchise to begin play in 1977. Labatt's Breweries purchased it for a reported $7 million.
NAMED: As head basketball coach at Ohio State, ELDON MILLER, who had an 86-68 record in his six years at Western Michigan. He replaces Fred Taylor, who resigned last month.
DIED: JOHN LOFTUS, 80, first jockey to win the Triple Crown when he guided Sir Barton to Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont victories in 1919; in Carlsbad, Calif. In his 11-year career Loftus had over 500 wins in some 2,000 races, including nine on Man o' War, whom he also rode in his sole defeat.
DIED: FRED SCHMERTZ, 87, director from 1934 to 1974 of New York's Millrose Games, the oldest still-active indoor invitational track meet; in Baton Rouge.