PRO BASKETBALL—Only 1½ games separated Kansas City (37-33), Seattle (37-36) and Chicago (36-35) in the battle for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Written off after they lost 13 straight earlier this season, the Bulls have won 12 of 13, the last two over K.C. and Seattle. Artis Gilmore scored a season-high 42 points, including the decisive tip-in with one second to play, in the Bulls' 114-112 defeat of the Kings; Kansas City's Richard Washington just missed beating the buzzer with a desperation 40-foot shot. The next night the Bulls whipped the SuperSonics 104-92 to go over .500 for the first time since Oct. 26. Philadelphia warmed up for the playoffs by winning four times as George McGinnis and Dr. J combined for an average of 49 points a game. Bill Walton returned to the lineup, and Portland responded with three straight wins. With Walton, the Trail Blazers were 37-18; without Walton, 5-12. Ten Warriors scored in double figures as Golden State clobbered Indiana 150-91, the most points for the team since it moved west in 1962. Five New Orleans players were slightly injured in an afternoon traffic accident and had to miss that night's game in Phoenix, but Pistol Pete Maravich scored 51 points—his third plus-50 game this season—as seven tired Jazz-men beat the Suns 104-100. The New York Nets lost four games and became the first team to be mathematically eliminated from the playoff races.
BOWLING—ROY BUCKLEY of Columbus, Ohio defeated Jimmy Certain 227-193 to win Cleveland's Muriel Cigar Open and $8,000.
BOXING—JIMMY YOUNG upset George Foreman, winning a unanimous decision in their 12-round heavyweight bout in San Juan, P.R. (page 22).
Ninth-ranked heavyweight contender RON LYLE scored a mild upset by winning a 12-round split decision from Joe Bugner in Las Vegas.
GOLF—Shooting a fourth-round 72, 27-year-old Oklahoman MARK HAYES won the Tournament Players Championship in Jacksonville, Fla. with a one-over-par 289, the highest winning total on the PGA tour in five years. Hayes beat Mike McCullough, co-leader after the first three rounds, by two strokes and collected $60,000 (page 64).
HOCKEY—NHL: While published reports indicated that the league would lose between $15 and $18 million this year, attendance and play picked up as the regular season went into its final fortnight. Led by Center Rick MacLeish (three goals, two assists), Philadelphia tied the New York Rangers 4-4 and beat Los Angeles 5-3 with four third-period goals. Thus, despite a 4-1 loss to Atlanta, the Flyers maintained a four-point Patrick Division lead over the New York Islanders, who had a win and a tie. In the Smythe Division, St. Louis went winless in four games but stayed eight points in front of second-place Chicago. Last-place Colorado had gone 13 games without a win, yet the Rockies remain only seven points from a possible playoff berth. Even though it suffered a 4-2 loss to Boston, Buffalo took a two-point lead over the Bruins in the Adams by beating both Cleveland and Washington 6-2. In the Norris, Montreal stopped Los Angeles 3-0 on Ken Dryden's eighth shutout and stretched its record Forum unbeaten streak to 30. The Canadiens also secured the home-ice advantage throughout the playoffs.
WHA: Winnipeg's Anders Hedberg scored two goals in the Jets' 7-5 win over Indianapolis, and a hat trick in their 7-0 rout of Edmonton—raising his league-leading total to 63 goals. The Jets also had a 4-3 overtime victory at Birmingham. Still Winnipeg was eight points behind Houston in the West. The Aeros recovered from a 3-0 deficit to top Quebec 4-3 and beat Phoenix 6-3, with Gordie Howe picking up a goal and two assists. Calgary dropped five straight to Eastern Division teams. Cincinnati edged the Cowboys 4-3, setting a club record for victories (36), Quebec beat them 8-0 and New England added a 9-0 pasting.
MOTOR SPORTS—RICHARD PETTY set a record pace of 144.093 mph while winning the $170,000 Atlanta 500. Petty finished 12 seconds ahead of David Pearson, the 61st time they have placed 1-2.
PLATFORM TENNIS—HERB FITZGIBBON and HANK IRVINE upset Gordon Gray and Doug Russell 6-3, 7-5, 1-6, 6-4 to win the national championship in Scarsdale, N.Y. HILARY HILTON and LOUISE GENGLER beat Shirley Babington and Marti Cavanaugh 6-2, 6-4 for the women's title.
SKIING—With back-to-back World Cup slalom victories in Voss, Norway and Are, Sweden, 21-year-old INGEMAR STENMARK clinched the overall title for the second straight year.
SWIMMING—Four American women's records were set at the Southern California Invitational Championships in Los Angeles. JENNIFER HOOKER of Mission Viejo, Calif. was timed in 4:46.27 in the 500-yard freestyle. 16:16.90 in the 1650 freestyle. LINDA JEZEK won the 100-yard backstroke in 57.29 and 200-yard backstroke in 2.01.63.
TENNIS—JIMMY CONNORS beat John Alexander 7-6, 6-2 to take the $100,000 WCT Classic in St. Louis.
Chris Evert won her fifth Virginia Slims title of the year and $20,000, beating Martina Navratilova 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 in Philadelphia.
WRESTLING—Although it had only one individual champion, IOWA STATE won its seventh NCAA title in Norman, Okla. (page 56).
MILEPOSTS—HIRED: "Terrible" TED LINDSAY, 51. as general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, replacing Alex Delvecchio, who was fired. A member of the Hall of Fame, Lindsay played 14 seasons for the Red Wings, mostly at left wing on a line with Gordie Howe at right wing and either Sid Abel or Delvecchio at center, and three years for the Chicago Black Hawks; he scored 379 goals during his career and amassed 1,808 penalty minutes.
UPHELD: Baseball Commissioner BOWIE KUHN's decision to void Oakland owner Charles O. Finley's sale of Vida Blue, Joe Rudi and Rollie Fingers last season; by U.S. District Court Judge Frank McGarr; in Chicago.
DIED: CARLOS PACE, 33, Brazilian Formula I driver; in a plane crash; in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Pace, who was under contract to the Brabham racing team, was tied for fifth in the 1977 world driving competition.
DIED: ANTONINO ROCCA, 49, professional wrestler; in New York. Rocca was one of several recognized "heavyweight champions of the world" during his highly successful 25-year career.
DIED: LAWRENCE TIMOTHY (BUCK) SHAW, 77, college and professional football coach for more than 30 years; of cancer; in Menlo Park, Calif. A 178-pound tackle for Knute Rockne at Notre Dame, Shaw subsequently coached five college teams, the San Francisco 49ers (1946-54) and the Philadelphia Eagles (1958-60). Shaw retired after his biggest win, a 17-13 victory over the Green Bay Packers in the 1960 NFL championship game.