PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: In the last week of regular-season play Philadelphia beat New Orleans 102-99 and clinched second place in the Atlantic Division (and the home-court advantage in its best-of-three vs. Buffalo, which finished third) by defeating Kansas City 112-108 behind George McGinnis' 38 points. That accomplished, the 76ers snapped Atlanta's 16-game losing streak by bowing to the Hawks 123-109. First-place Boston, with Dave Cowens sidelined with a bruised heel, lost to Cleveland, Kansas City and Milwaukee. In the Celtics' 103-99 victory over the Bullets John Havlicek celebrated the passing of his 36th birthday by scoring a season-high 38 points. Cleveland inched ahead of Washington in the Central Division by beating Boston 101-92 and New Orleans 111-97, then downed New York 99-94 to assure the Cavaliers of first place and the home-court advantage when they meet Washington in their best-of-seven series. Milwaukee lost to Detroit 106-96, then became No. 1 in the ho-hum Midwest by beating Boston 106-100. In the Pacific, Bill Walton scored 26 points and triggered a second-half rally in Portland's 106-104 defeat of Los Angeles. The Lakers' 113-98 loss to Phoenix put them out of the playoffs for the second consecutive year. Phoenix finished the season 42-40 after downing Seattle 121-95 and will open playoff action against the SuperSonics, who won the home-court advantage by beating Portland 132-131 to finish 43-39. Earlier in the week Seattle's 119-103 win over the Golden State Warriors set a club record of 15 consecutive wins at home.
ABA: San Antonio won its last regular-season game against Indiana 96-75 after rain poured through the roof of the HemisFair Arena, causing a 36-minute delay and necessitating special safety rules because of the slippery floor—no fast breaks and no pressing defenses. In that contest James Silas scored 26 points, giving him a season total of 2,000. The Spurs bowed to the Nets in their first playoff game 116-101 as Julius Erving scored 31 points and Al Skinner rang up a career high of 25. In the third quarter Silas chipped his ankle and will be out for the rest of the year. In the second game of the best-of-seven set, New York was blown out by San Antonio 105-79. Erving was again voted league MVP by the players (he and George McGinnis tied for the honor last year) and led scorers for the third time in four seasons with a 29.3 average. Indiana's Don Buse set league records in assists (689) and steals (346). The Nets were the leaders in defense, despite having allowed 108.83 points per game, and the Nuggets were the offense champs with a 121.87 average.
BOWLING—BILLY HARDWICK, a 17-time PBA titlist, won his first major crown since 1969, the $80,000 Monro-Matic Open, in Toledo, beating Ernie Schlegel 236-206.
BOXING—British heavyweight champion RICHARD DUNN knocked out West Germany's Bernd August in the third round in London to win the vacant European title and qualify for a title fight with Muhammad Ali in Munich on May 24.
April 19, 1976
DOG SHOWS—CH. DERSADE BOBBY'S GIRL, the top-winning Sealyham terrier in the history of the breed in America, was named best in the 85th show of the United Kennel Club at Montreal.
PRO FOOTBALL—Tampa Bay opened the 41st NFL college draft by picking Oklahoma's All-America Defensive End LEROY SELMON. A total of 487 players were drafted in a two-day session overshadowed by deals involving Calvin Hill, Larry Csonka, Paul Warfield and Jim Plunkett (page 72).
GOLF—RAY FLOYD won the Masters in Augusta, Ga., his 17-under-par 271 matching the record set by Jack Nicklaus in 1965. Ben Crenshaw came in second with a 279 (page 18).
In Tokyo, defending champion JANE BLALOCK rallied from six strokes behind with a final-round 69 to win the fourth World Ladies tournament with a 228, one stroke better than Yukiko Toriyama of Japan.
GYMNASTICS—PETER KORMAN, 19, of New Haven, Conn., scored 54.80 points to win the gold medal in the Champions All tournament at Wembley, England. THEODORA UNGUREANU of Rumania took the women's gold medal with 38.55.
HOCKEY—NHL: Maybe the essays on playoff opponents that Islander Coach Al Arbour requires his players to write weren't a factor, but the New Yorkers beat Vancouver twice in a row in their preliminary best-of-three Stanley Cup series and meet Buffalo in the best-of-seven quarterfinals. The Islanders' clinching 3-1 win over the Canucks came when Garry Howatt scored to break a 1-1 tie; 32 seconds later Clark Gillies got the final goal. The Sabres won Games 2 and 3 of their series with St. Louis, sending the Blues home for the summer and Buffalo onward and upward. Pittsburgh lost more than its series with Toronto when Syl Apps tore ligaments in his left knee, and Boston will have to start its Stanley Cup war without Bobby Orr, whose injured knee will prevent him from playing.
WHA: As a last regular-season lesson for the youngsters, 48-year-old Gordie Howe scored the tic-breaking goal on a power play in Houston's 8-5 defeat of Phoenix. Thirty-seven-year-old Bobby Hull scored three goals to give him a season total of 53—the ninth time in his career he reached the 50-goal plateau—as Winnipeg beat Calgary 5-3 in the Jets' final game. In a best-of-five preliminary, the Roadrunners overcame San Diego 3-2 on Del Hall's 20-foot backhander 31 seconds into overtime, but then lost to the Mariners 4-2, tying the series 1-1. The other preliminary was won by New England, which racked up Cleveland 5-3, 6-1 and 3-2. In the two best-of-seven quarterfinals under way, Calgary beat Quebec 3-1 and 8-4 to lead that series 2-0 and Winnipeg won its first two games against Edmonton 7-3 and 5-4 in overtime.
MOTOR SPORTS—DAVID PEARSON drove his Mercury to a five-length victory over Buddy Baker in the Rebel 500 at Darlington, S.C.
SKIING—Swedish World Cup champion INGEMAR STENMARK won his first giant slalom title in the National Alpine championships at Are, Sweden, beating runner-up Torsten Jakobsson by almost five seconds.
TENNIS—Mexico's Raul Ramirez twisted his ankle and defaulted to JOHN NEWCOMBE in the sixth game of the fifth set of the WCT Avis Challenge Cup match in Keauhou-Kona, Hawaii. Newcombe won the $10,000 winner-take-all round-robin match 6-4, 6-1, 3-6, 5-7, 3-2 retired.
New Zealand's ONNY PARUN upset Cliff Drysdale 7-6, 6-3 to win the WCT tournament in Johannesburg.
Harold Solomon upended defending champion Ken Rosewall 6-4, 1-6, 6-1 to win the River Oaks WCT tournament in Houston.
TRACK & FIELD—The UNIVERSITY OF TENNESSEE 880-yard relay team of Lamar Preyor, Ronnie Harris, Jerome Morgan and Reggie Jones equaled the world record of 1:21.7 at the Dogwood Relays in Knoxville.
MILEPOSTS—ATTAINED: By JAMES E. TARJAN, 24, of Sherman Oaks, Calif., the title of international grandmaster, chess' highest permanently conferred ranking. Of slightly over 100 grandmasters in the world, Tarjan is the 12th American.
HIRED: As basketball coach at Tulane, ROY DANFORTH, 40, after 12 years at Syracuse, eight of them as head coach, in which he compiled a 148-71 record.
HIRED: DON DeVOE, 34, as basketball coach at the University of Wyoming, after five years at Virginia Tech, where his Gobblers were 88-45.
HIRED: DARRYL ROGERS, 40, as football coach at Michigan State. In his three years at San Jose State Rogers' record was 22-9-3. Also at MSU, Montana's JUD HEATHCOTE, 48, was hired to replace fired basketball coach Gus Ganakas.
RESIGNED: With more than two years remaining on his contract, EMILE FRANCIS, former coach and general manager of the New York Rangers, as vice-president of the club he had been associated with for 16 years.
SENTENCED: COLONEL JERZY PAWLOWSKI, 43, by a military court in Poland to 25 years in prison for spying. The Polish army officer won a gold medal in fencing in the 1968 Olympics.
SIGNED: By the Atlanta Braves, free agent ANDY MESSERSMITH, to a reported three-year $1 million contract.
DIED: Boxer CHUCK WILBURN, 22, of Cleveland; in Sydney. Wilburn never regained consciousness after being knocked out in the 10th round of his light welterweight bout with Hector Thompson of Australia.
DIED: BRUCE GEHRKE, 50; former pro football player; of leukemia, in Manhasset, N.Y. Gehrke earned 12 varsity letters at Columbia University, more than any other athlete in the school's history, and played one season with the New York Giants.