PRO BASKETBALL—"There's nowhere else you'll see two forwards play like this," said Philadelphia Coach Gene Shue after his 76ers downed Houston 116-94, in front of the biggest pro basketball crowd for a single game (15,676) in Texas history. The players he was talking about, George McGinnis and Julius Erving, had a combined average of 46.6 points per game in the 76ers' three wins. The 76ers' first victory over New Orleans, 111-101, was played before 27,383 people in the Superdome, the largest crowd to watch an NBA contest. On Saturday night the 76ers beat the Ervingless Nets 104-80. Atlantic leader Boston stayed unbeaten, but the Knicks, whose 3-0 start was their best since their 1969 championship season, lost twice, first to undefeated Cleveland, 114-90, and then to New Orleans, 115-112 (page 26). Denver also remained undefeated and was on top of the Midwest Division. Dan Issel and David Thompson scored 17 of their 44 points in the fourth quarter in a 113-107 defeat of Phoenix. Indiana, another NBA rookie team, won three times to even its record, despite the fact that Forward Billy Knight and Center Len Elmore were sidelined by injuries. Milwaukee won its first game in six outings by beating Chicago 102-74, with Brian Winters and Elmore Smith accounting for 44 points. Kansas City tested its rookie Forward Richard Washington against San Antonio, and he responded with 24 points and 13 rebounds in a 130-102 defeat of the Spurs. Phoenix, defending Western Conference champ, got its first win when Forward Curtis Perry snatched 13 rebounds and combined with Gar Heard for 40 points in a 95-82 defeat of the Bulls. Pacific leader Portland lost to Golden State, 112-92, as Warrior Rick Barry tallied 34 points, including live field goals off a one-handed set shot, to give the Warriors their first win.
BOWLING—EARL ANTHONY defeated Butch Soper 222-192 in the $60,000 Buzz Fazio Open tournament at Battle Creek, Mich. for his 26th tour victory, a PBA record.
BOXING—Eighteen-year-old JOSE CUEVAS of Mexico scored a sixth-round TKO over Shoji Tsujimoto of Japan to retain his WBA welterweight title in Kanazawa, Japan.
PRO FOOTBALL—Fran Tarkenton completed 24 of 46 passes for 272 yards to surpass Johnny Unitas' career record (40,239) by 182 yards, and Minnesota racked up 16 more first downs than the Bears but lost its first game 14-13. In another NFC Central Division game. Detroit defeated Green Bay 27-6 to move into a tie with Chicago for second place. Lion Quarterback Greg Landry connected with Ray Jarvis six times for a total of 163 yards and two touchdowns, one on a 74-yarder. San Francisco lost to St. Louis 23-20 in overtime when Jim Bakken booted a 21-yard field goal. Los Angeles moved into the Western lead, with a 45-6 trouncing of Seattle. Atlanta trailed New Orleans 14-0 at the half, but Reserve Quarterback Scott Hunter came off the Falcon bench to complete 10 of 11 passes for 138 yards and two touchdowns for a 23-20 Atlanta victory. Washington faced two Eastern rivals in six days, beating St. Louis 20-10 in a driving rain on Monday, but losing to division leader Dallas 20-7 on Sunday. The Giants' new coach, John McVay, couldn't produce a miracle as his team lost for the eighth straight time, to Philadelphia 10-0. In Miami ex-Giant Head Coach Bill Arnsparger, rehired as defensive coach of the Dolphins, watched Tackle Don Reese sack New England Quarterback Steve Grogan to halt a fourth-quarter drive and preserve a 10-3 Miami upset victory. Rookie Quarterback Richard Todd led the Jets to their second win, both against Buffalo, this time by a 19-14 score. Cincinnati strengthened its hold on first in the AFC Central by downing Cleveland 21-6, Boobie Clark running for two touchdowns and Isaac Curtis grabbing a 69-yard TD pass from Ken Anderson. Cellar-dwelling Pittsburgh yielded only 44 yards rushing and seven first downs to San Diego while winning its third straight game, 23-0, to even its record at 4-4. Oakland put distance between itself and second-place Denver 19-6, while the division's basement teams met in the AFC West with Kansas City handing Tampa Bay its eighth loss, 28-19.
GOLF—JACK NICKLAUS won his fifth Australian Open when he carded a two-under-par 286 to finish four strokes ahead of fellow American Curtis Strange in the $200,000 event in Sydney.
HARNESS RACING—WINDSHIELD WIPER ($11), with Billy Haughton in the sulky, won the $161,290 Messenger pace for 3-year-olds at Roosevelt in 2:00, defeating highly favored Keystone Ore by three-quarters of a length. The come-from-behind win spoiled Ore's try for pacing's Triple Crown (page 52).
HOCKEY—NHL: Philadelphia Goalie Bernie Parent stopped Pittsburgh's 21 shots to blank the Penguins 3-0, for his 41st career shutout—his second of the season—and lead the Flyers to their fifth straight win on home ice, increasing their unbeaten streak to seven. But Philadelphia still trailed the Islanders (page 24) by two points and didn't gain ground on the Patrick leaders when their Saturday night clash ended in a 3-3 tie. The Rangers opened the week by skating past Cleveland 5-2, three scores coming on power plays as rookie Don Murdoch tallied his 10th and 11th goals. The two division leaders in the Wales Conference, Boston in the Adams and Montreal in the Norris, faced off on Saturday, the Bruins coming out on top 4-3 as Pete McNab set up two scores, including the game-winner by Terry O'Reilly. Toronto called 22-year-old Goalie Mike Palmateer up from the minors, and he helped end a seven-game winless streak, the Maple Leafs beating Detroit 3-1. He also blocked 36 shots in a 5-1 defeat of Minnesota, Los Angeles, trailing the Canadiens by two points, won three games, the last a 4-3 squeaker over Cleveland in which Tommy Williams scored on two power plays. The Kings were unbeaten in eight of their last nine games. St. Louis stayed atop the Smythe Division, the Blues' only loss coming at the hands of the Islanders, 5-2.
WHA: Indianapolis Coach Jacques Demers beseeched his skaters to "play as if your jobs depended on it," when the cellar-dwelling Racers faced the Eastern Division leader, Quebec. He wasn't kidding, either. In a 5-1 loss to San Diego earlier in the week, the Racers (last year's division champs) had failed to score on five power plays, and Demers had shipped out two players. Despite a three-goal effort by Nordique Marc Tardif, the league's scoring champ, no Racer lost his job as Indianapolis won 6-4. Cincinnati cruised into second place with three victories, Rich Leduc, Blaine Stoughton and Rick Dudley, its "LSD line," each tallying a goal in a 4-2 defeat of San Diego. Western leader Winnipeg destroyed Edmonton 11-3 with Veli-Pekka Ketola getting three goals and three assists, while Phoenix was being outscored by its three victorious opponents 25-7 and dropped into second place.
HORSE RACING—MY JULIET ($20.20), ridden by Tony Black, upset Bold Forbes in the $53,300 Vosburgh Handicap at Aqueduct, running the seven-furlong stakes in 1:21[4/5]. The 4-year-old filly finished two lengths ahead of the favorite, who was dropped to third on an interference claim.
Optimistic Gal ($3.40), Craig Perret up, scored a live-length victory over Ivory Wand in the $81,550 Spinster Stakes at Keeneland. The 3-year-old's time for the mile and an eighth was 1:51[3/5].
Royal Ski ($16.20), with Jack Kurtz in the irons, won the $150,910 Laurel Futurity by four lengths over For The Moment. The 2-year-old colt, owned by Boston Bruin Goalie Gerry Cheevers, covered the 1 [1/16]-mile course in 1:44 for his third stakes victory.
MOTOR SPORTS—JOHNNY RUTHERFORD out-dueled Gordon Johncock to win the 200-mile Indy car race in College Station, Texas. Rutherford averaged 150.315 mph in his McLaren on the two-mile Texas World Speedway.
PLATFORM TENNIS—HERB FITZGIBBON and HANK IRVINE beat Keith Jennings and Chauncey Steele 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 and split the $10,000 first-prize money in the PRO-Keds Classic in New York City.
TENNIS—EDDIE DIBBS won the Paris Indoor Open, beating Jaime Fillol 5-7, 6-4, 6-4, 7-6. In Vienna, WOJTEK FIBAK upset Raul Ramirez 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, 2-6, 6-1 to win the "Fischer" Grand Prix tournament.
MILEPOSTS—DIED: CLAIRE RUTH, 76, widow of Babe Ruth; of cancer; in New York. A former model and showgirl, Mrs. Ruth, née Merritt, married the Babe in 1929; it was the second marriage for both. An indefatigable Yankee fan, Mrs. Ruth helped organize the Babe Ruth League.