PRO BASKETBALL—If ever there was a week for the home-court advantage, this was it. Of the 32 games scheduled through Saturday night, 26 were won by the home team, including all 14 on Friday and Saturday. Portland (4-1) lost at Denver, 111-108, but at home the Trail Blazers won their 11th straight, 98-94 over Philadelphia (2-3) in a rematch of last year's playoff finalists that the 76ers preferred to call "just one of 82." Denver (4-2) defeated Buffalo (2-4) 127-111 but committed 30 turnovers on Indiana's home court, losing 129-104 as Pacers Adrian Dantley and John Williamson combined for 61 points. The Knicks (3-2) began to wonder if they really were playing at home, the fans cheering as Walt Frazier—the same Walt Frazier they booed last year as a Knick—scored 28 points in a 117-112 Cleveland victory (page 74). In Atlanta (3-1), owner Ted Turner promised the fans that if the home team won, they could all come back next week for a free game. The Hawks did themselves and the crowd a good turn by downing the Lakers (2-5) 102-95. The Nets (1-4) won their first game of the season 116-109 over Boston at Piscataway, and the Celtics (1-5) got their first win in their home away from home, Hartford, Conn., downing Atlanta 110-103. Seattle, too, came through at home for its sole win, 97-92 over Buffalo, as Fred Brown tallied 37 points. Phoenix started the week with two strong performances from Paul Westphal, 26 points in a 104-101 victory over the Lakers and 30 in a 93-86 defeat of Seattle. However, the Suns lost 114-107 in New Orleans and 125-112 in Houston. The Jazz beat New York 123-106 as Gale Goodrich scored 25 points to exceed 17,000 for his career and Earl Monroe topped 15,000. Washington (1-3) lost two away games, 136-127 at Indiana and 120-106 at Kansas City (3-4).
BOXING—Unbeaten CARLOS ZARATE scored his 48th straight win—and 47th by KO—putting away previously undefeated Danilo Batista in the sixth round to retain his WBC bantamweight title in Los Angeles.
PRO FOOTBALL—Oakland, which hadn't lost a game in Denver since 1962, kept its record intact, avenging a 30-7 loss two weeks ago by destroying previously unbeaten Denver 24-14 and pulling into a tie with the Broncos for the division lead (page 22). Pat Haden sparkled and Fran Tarkenton was sacked four times and intercepted twice as the Rams crushed Minnesota 35-3 on Monday night. Tarkenton was back in form on Sunday, firing a six-yard TD pass in the final quarter to Bob Tucker, who joined the Vikings earlier in the week, to defeat Atlanta 14-7. The Rams, however, were not in top form, losing to New Orleans 27-26 when Rich Szaro bounced a 31-yard field goal off the right goalpost with a little more than three minutes remaining. Baltimore avenged two humiliating playoff defeats by intercepting five passes in a 31-21 defeat of Pittsburgh. Bert Jones threw for two TDs and ran for another. Miami fell to San Diego 14-13 when James Harris charged five yards for a TD as time expired and Rolf Benirschke kicked the extra point. The Jets gave New England another hard time, but on this occasion lost, Steve Grogan passing for three scores in a 24-13 win. Chicago's Walter Payton, the league's leading rusher, ran for 205 yards, tying Gale Sayers' club record, and scored two touchdowns as the Bears drubbed Green Bay 26-0. Roger Staubach threw for three TDs and Efren Herrera kicked three field goals in a 37-0 Dallas win over Detroit, the undefeated Cowboys' seventh straight. Chris Bahr kicked a 23-yard field goal 5:51 into overtime as Cincinnati topped Houston 13-10. Kansas City lost for the sixth time, falling to Cleveland 44-7. Jim Zorn passed for four touchdowns and Seattle scored a team-record 56 points while holding Buffalo to 17. O. J. Simpson was unable to play in the second half because of a knee injury and, at best, is a questionable starter on Sunday. Washington defeated Philadelphia 23-17 and the 49ers beat Tampa Bay 20-10.
GOLF—LEONARD THOMPSON won the $125,000 Pensacola Open with a 16-under-par 268, two strokes better than Curtis Strange.
HOCKEY—NHL: Montreal was in the throes of a horrendous slump, going a whole two games without a victory. Toronto tied the Canadiens on Ian Turnbull's goal with 1:24 to play, then Los Angeles handed them their first defeat by rallying for three third-period goals, including two within a span of 68 seconds, for a 5-3 victory. Guy Lafleur scored a hat trick in that game, beating L.A. backup Goaltender Gary Simmons three times in the first period. The Islanders extended their unbeaten streak to six, defeating Vancouver 3-2 and Buffalo 4-2. Still, Islander Coach Al Arbour maintained his team was "more lucky than good." Minnesota finally won a game after six straight losses, beating Boston 3-0 in a penalty-filled roller derby. After the game, Minnesota President Gordon Ritz labeled the Bruins' approach "thuggery," and two days later the North Stars added a tough guy of their own—6'4", 220-pound Harvey Bennett from Philadelphia. Detroit beat Pittsburgh 4-3 on Reed Larson's first NHL goal, and stopped the North Stars 3-1 to extend its unbeaten streak to four, then fell to Toronto, 7-4. Chicago's Tony Esposito got his 59th career shutout, 2-0 over St. Louis. The Blues managed to tie Atlanta, but their record was 0-8-1, the worst in the league. Colorado, down 4-1, rallied to tie Boston 4-4, then beat Washington 8-1 and Vancouver 6-2 to move into a first-place tie with the Black Hawks. The New York Rangers got a shutout from Wayne Thomas in a 5-0 win over Cleveland, and beat St. Louis 6-2 as Steve Vickers emerged from Coach Guy Jean Talbot's kennel club to score four goals. Philadelphia tied Chicago 2-2, then blitzed St. Louis 7-3. Washington lost three of four, while Cleveland lost three straight.
WHA: Mark Howe and father Gordie scored within 74 seconds in the second period to ignite the New England Whalers to a 7-1 romp over Quebec, the Whalers' sixth victory in eight starts. Don Larway's overtime goal lifted Houston to an 8-7 win over Edmonton after the Oilers had rallied from a 7-2 deficit. Claude St. Sauveur's three goals and one assist powered Indianapolis past Winnipeg 5-3, and Bobby Hull's 10th goal in eight games helped Winnipeg topple Cincinnati 3-2.
HORSE RACING—In the $144,650 Laurel Futurity, virtually a match race between the nation's top 2-year-olds, AFFIRMED ($4.80) and Alydar battled head to head for a mile, Steve Cauthen putting Affirmed in front by a neck at the wire, thus assuring his mount, which has a 4-2 edge over the Calumet colt, the Eclipse Award. The time for the mile and a sixteenth was 1:44[1/5] and the pair finished 10 and 27 lengths in front of the only two horses to oppose them.
Pay Tribute ($18) shipped in from California to win the inaugural $176,800 Meadowlands Cup, three-quarters of a length in front of Father Hogan. Under Angel Cordero, he covered the 1¼ miles in 2:02[3/5].
MOTOR SPORTS—Dodging debris from Spike Gehlhausen's wrecked McLaren-Offy through the final lap, GORDON JOHNCOCK, in a four-cylinder Offenhauser, held off Al Unser to win the Bobby Ball 150, the final event of the Indy car season, in Phoenix.
WRESTLING—STANLEY DZIEDZIC of East Lansing, Mich., competing in the 163-pound class, was the only U.S. gold medalist at the world freestyle championships in Lausanne, Switzerland. JIM HUMPHREY of Bakersfield, Calif. won the silver medal in the 136.5-pound division and JACK REINWAND of Madison, Wis. took the bronze in the 125.5-pound class. The U.S.S.R. won the team championship.
MILEPOSTS—DECLARED INELIGIBLE: University of Minnesota basketball players Michael Thompson and Dave Winey, by the school's Assembly Committee on Intercollegiate Athletics. The committee's decision was a reversal of its stand in March 1976, when the NCAA placed the university's athletic program on indefinite probation after the committee refused to declare Thompson, the Big Ten's leading scorer, and Winey ineligible. The NCAA's Committee on Infractions will now meet to reconsider the sanctions against Minnesota's athletic program.
FIRED: DAVE BRISTOL, 44, as manager of the Atlanta Braves, after finishing in the division cellar the past two seasons.
NAMED: By the Baseball Writers Association of America, SPARKY LYLE of the New York Yankees as winner of the American League Cy Young Award, with 56½ points, 8½ more than runner-up Jim Palmer. Lyle, the first relief pitcher to receive the award, had a 13-5 record, a 2.17 ERA and 26 saves.
DIED: TONY HULMAN, 76, owner of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway; of a ruptured artery; in Indianapolis. Hulman bought the Speedway in 1945 for $250,000, when it was in a state of near ruin, and developed the Indianapolis 500—whose purse this year was more than quadruple his purchase price—into one of the premier sporting events in the U.S. It was Hulman's voice that was heard every Memorial Day uttering the storied "Gentlemen, start your engines."