PRO BASKETBALL—The Midwest Division remained the league's most schizophrenic, with the Denver Nuggets coasting along with a 13-4 record at the top of the heap, and the Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks at the bottom of the pile with only five wins between them. In Denver's only loss of the week, a 120-110 defeat at Kansas City, Nugget Coach Larry Brown received his first NBA heave-ho, two technicals being called on him in the final minute of play. Milwaukee forced the resignation of Coach Larry Costello, who was replaced by Assistant Coach Don Nelson. Ex-Celtic Nelson then led the Bucks to their seventh, eighth and ninth straight defeats. Chicago retained both its coach and its losing streak as the Bulls dropped their 10th in a row, to Seattle 101-97. Kansas City embarrassed the New York Knicks, 100-98. The Knicks had the ball out of bounds with five seconds remaining and the score tied. KC's Brian Taylor picked off the inbound pass, drove the length of the court and was fouled. Taylor hit both free throws, and the Knicks were on their way to an 0-3 week. Philadelphia led the Atlantic Division by beating Boston and the Knicks handily, before losing 111-104 to Central Division-leading Cleveland. The Cavs, who got 25 points from Campy Russell in the win over the 76ers, also defeated Detroit 111-105 and Boston 108-92. Houston had a perfect week, too, beating Golden State in overtime, New Orleans and San Antonio. Atlanta ended its 28-game losing streak on the road by whipping the New York Nets 109-105. The Warriors went from bad to worse, losing to New Orleans, Houston and San Antonio, but beat Atlanta 132-98 at week's end. Portland increased its Pacific lead to a game and a half, defeating Washington 103-95. Phoenix began to make a move, defeating Washington 104-98 as Ricky Sobers and Paul Westphal scored 45 of their combined 51 points in the second half.
CROSS-COUNTRY—The UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS-EL PASO won the NCAA Division I championship at Denton, Texas by placing four runners in the top 15 finishers. Henry Rono of Washington State and Kenya came in first, covering the 10,000-meter course in 28:06.6, with teammate and compatriot Samson Kimombwa finishing second. Defending champion Craig Virgin of Illinois was third.
Janice Merrill of Waterford, Conn. won the AAU women's title in Miami, finishing 15 seconds ahead of Julie Brown of Los Angeles. Merrill covered the 5,000-meter course in 16:37.
PRO FOOTBALL—St. Louis' hopes of making the playoffs as a wild-card team received a jolt when Dallas defeated the Cards 19-14 on Thanksgiving Day. The key play came in the second period when Cowboy Punter Danny White faked a punt on fourth down at his own 28-yard line and passed for 43 yards to Benny Barnes. Dallas went on to score, breaking a 7-7 tie, and the Cardinals never caught up. Washington moved into at for second in the NFC East by beating Philadelphia 24-0 on Billy Kilmer's three touchdown passes. Detroit beat Buffalo 27-14, but O. J. Simpson rushed for 273 yards in 29 carries, breaking his own NFL record of 250 yards in one game. Simpson also: 1) became the first player to rush for 200 or more yards five times; 2) passed the 9,000-yard career rushing mark; 3) ran his season-rushing total to 1,129 yards. It is the fifth consecutive year the Juice has run for at least 1,000. The New York Giants won their second game, defeating Seattle 28-16 as rookie Gordon Bell ran for two scores and Quarterback Craig Morton passed for two more. New England opened a 31-0 halftime lead over Denver, then coasted to a 38-14 win as Fullback Don Calhoun ran for 177 yards. Brian Sipe passed for two touchdowns and the Cleveland defense held at the four-yard line as time expired for a 17-13 over Miami. Bob Thomas gave Chicago a 16-10 victory over Green Bay by kicking three field goals. Walter Payton rushed for 110 yards to set up Thomas' kicks. Baltimore destroyed the New York Jets 33-16 as Bert Jones tossed three scoring passes in the second quarter. It was the Colts' second win of the week: they defeated Miami in the Monday night game 17-16. Houston snapped its six-game losing streak by defeating Atlanta 20-14. Ed Podolak scurried in from the five-yard line for his second touchdown to give Kansas City a 23-20 win over San Diego. Rookie Quarterback Pat Haden threw two touchdown passes and ran for a score as Los Angeles stopped New Orleans 33-14. Oakland handed Tampa Bay its 12th consecutive loss, 49-16, and Pittsburgh won its seventh straight game, defeating Cincinnati 7-3 (page 30).
December 6, 1976
The OTTAWA ROUGH RIDERS defeated Saskatchewan 23-20, former Notre Dame Quarterback Tom Clements hitting Tight End Tony Gabriel with a 24-yard scoring pass with 20 seconds remaining in the Canadian Football League's Grey Cup game at Toronto.
GOLF—AMY ALCOTT fired a five-under-par final-round 67 to win the $108,000 Far East Open Women's Tournament in Manila. Alcott's total of 211 enabled her to finish one stroke ahead of Donna Caponi Young.
Graham Marsh of Australia shot a 272 to win the $200,000 Phoenix Tournament in Miyazaki, Japan, defeating Miller Barber by six strokes.
HOCKEY—NHL: The Montreal Canadiens continued to pour it on, widening their lead in the Norris Division to 17 points over second-place Los Angeles. The Kings were unable to help themselves, losing to Chicago 5-4 and the Canadiens 4-3 for their ninth and 10th consecutive winless games. Guy Lafleur pulled out the Canadiens' win over Los Angeles by scoring the winning goal with only 11 seconds remaining. Montreal also defeated the New York Islanders 5-1, then walloped Cleveland 8-1 as Steve Shutt, the league's leading scorer, scored two goals. The Islanders, leading the Patrick Division by 5 points, were in a mini-tailspin. The loss to Montreal ended their 10-game unbeaten streak, then the Red Wings beat them 3-1. After the Detroit loss, Islander Coach Al Arbour said, "It was Thanksgiving Day and we played like turkeys." Atlanta remained in second place in the Patrick, defeating Washington 6-2 and St. Louis 5-2. Philadelphia beat Colorado 4-2 and tied the New York Rangers 2-2. The Rangers recorded their first shutout of the season, beating Detroit 5-0. Vancouver defeated Chicago 4-3 in Smythe Division play to end the Canucks' nine-game winless streak. St. Louis maintained a slim advantage in the Smythe by beating Minnesota 4-2 and Buffalo 3-2 on Derek Sanderson's two goals. Boston Goalie Gerry Cheevers had 34 saves in the Bruins' 4-0 win against Pittsburgh, but was unmoved. "I couldn't care less about a shutout," he said. The next night Boston extended its unbeaten streak to 10 games by defeating Vancouver 4-2. Toronto finally beat the Bruins 4-2, but Boston's lead over second-place Buffalo in the Adams Division remained at 10 points.
WHA: In the Eastern Division, the Quebec Nordiques held a two-point lead over Cincinnati, though neither team was overwhelming. The Nordiques opened with a 7-4 defeat of Winnipeg and a 5-0 win over Indianapolis, then lost 4-2 to Minnesota and 8-2 to Indianapolis. The Fighting Saints and the Racers also upended Cincinnati 4-0 and 6-4 respectively, then the Stingers struggled to a 2-1 win over last-place Birmingham. Minnesota moved up in the standings with three straight wins, the last one against Birmingham, 3-1. The Whalers beat the Bulls in Birmingham, 5-3, but the day after the game New England Coach Harry Neale was questioned by police about an incident in which a hockey stick was swung at unruly spectators sitting behind the Whalers' bench, with three of them requiring medical attention. Houston tied Winnipeg 1-1, remaining deadlocked for first place in the Western Division.
MILEPOSTS—HIRED: HERMAN FRANKS, 63, to manage the Chicago Cubs. Franks, who managed the San Francisco Giants from 1965-68, replaces Jim Marshall.
NAMED: The Most Valuable Player in the National League, JOE MORGAN of Cincinnati, for the second consecutive year. Second Baseman Morgan batted .320, had 111 RBIs, 27 homers and 60 stolen bases.
RESIGNED: BILL BATTLE, 34, as football coach at Tennessee. The Vols were 59-22-2 in Battle's seven years but only 6-5 this season. Also leaving coaching jobs were PAUL KEMP, 43, who had a 16-24-1 record in four seasons at Boston University; BOB BLACK-MAN, 58, 29-36-1 in six years at Illinois; DON READ, 41, 9-24 at the University of Oregon; ALEX AGASE, 54, 18-25-1 at Purdue; and TOM LOVAT, 37. 5-28 for three seasons at the University of Utah.
SIGNED: As a result of baseball's free-agent draft, former Baltimore Outfielder REGGIE JACKSON, by the N.Y. Yankees; former Baltimore Second Baseman BOBBY GRICH, by California; former Oakland Relief Pitcher ROLLIE FINGERS, by San Diego; former Minnesota Infielder ERIC SODERHOLM, by the Chicago White Sox.