PRO BASKETBALL—Minus Rudy Tomjanovich, Houston's record has been dismal: the Rockets lost 32 of their last 46 games, dropped to last place in the NBA Central and were 0-5 for the week, despite the heroics of Calvin Murphy, who has averaged 29.4 points in the last 20 games. Hoping for at least financial compensation from the Lakers for Kermit Washington's punch that disabled Tomjanovich, Houston has filed a $1.4-million damage suit. Attempting to compensate for the loss of injured Bill Walton and Lloyd Neal, Portland (2-2) signed free agent Willie Norwood before its 126-88 win over Milwaukee. Three nights later the Bucks (1-2) edged the Knicks in double overtime 127-125—Milwaukee's seventh double-overtime win in their last eight overtime games. A 123-109 defeat of the Pistons moved Atlanta (3-1) one percentage point ahead of Cleveland in the fight for the final two Eastern Conference playoff spots. Beating the Blazers 114-105 three nights later, the Hawks gained sole possession of third place. San Antonio (3-1) increased its lead over second-place Washington, defeating the Bullets 116-101.
BOWLING—NELSON BURTON JR. of St. Louis defeated Jeff Mattingly 204-201 to win the BPAA U.S. Open championship in Greensboro, N.C.
BOXING—ROCKY MATTIOLI of Australia retained his WBC light middleweight title with a seventh-round knockout of Elisha Obed of the Bahamas in Melbourne.
FIGURE SKATING—CHARLIE TICKNER won the men's world title in Ottawa, the first American to do so since Tim Wood in '70. ANETT P‚Äö√†√∂‚àö¬±TZSCH of East Germany took the women's crown (page 18).
March 20, 1978
GOLF—Shooting a 16-under-par 272, TOM WEISKOPF defeated a Jack Nicklaus rally to win the $200,000 Doral Open in Miami by one stroke.
Nancy Lopez shot a three-under-par 285 to win the $100,000 Sunstar Classic in Los Angeles, her second straight LPGA victory. Debbie Austin tied for second with Debbie Massey at 286.
GYMNASTICS—KURT THOMAS of Terre Haute, Ind. and NATASHA TERESCHENKO of the U.S.S.R. won the American Cup competition in New York.
HOCKEY—NHL: The Islanders, playing their best hockey in the club's six-year history, extended their Patrick Division lead over the Flyers to nine points by tying Pittsburgh 3-3 and defeating Vancouver 5-2, St. Louis 6-3 and Buffalo 4-2 (page 16). The Islanders were paced by Denis Potvin, who scored three goals in his last two games, and rookie Mike Bossy, who scored his 47th and 48th goals. Boston regained first place in the Adams Division with a 7-2 defeat of the Blues, and then extended its unbeaten streak to nine games by tying Detroit 2-2. The Red Wings handed Colorado, which has the worst away record in the NHL, its 20th road defeat this season, 5-4. Montreal beat Toronto 4-1 as Darryl Sittler failed to score at least one point for the first time in 18 games.
WHA: Bobby Hull slipped the puck past Quebec's Richard Brodeur to score goal No. 1,000, making him the second player in hockey history to reach that plateau. The first was Gordie Howe. The Jets went on to defeat the Nordiques 7-4. By upending Edmonton 4-3, New England 4-3 and Indianapolis 4-2, Houston caught up with the slumping Whalers in the battle for a second-place playoff berth.
HORSE RACING—SENSITIVE PRINCE ($3.00), ridden by Mickey Solomone, scored a five-length victory over Kissing U in the $33,150 Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream Park, tying the track record of 1:20[4/5] for seven furlongs. It was the unheralded 3-year-old colt's fourth straight win, making him a potential Kentucky Derby contender.
Longshot LIFE'S HOPE ($24.40), Chris McCarron up, won the $122,550 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds, covering the 1¼ miles in 2:02⅕ two and [2/5] seconds better than the track record set in 1960. Silver Series was second, 1¾ lengths back.
SKIING—FRANZ KLAMMER took the final race of the season in Laaz, Switzerland and won his fourth consecutive World Cup downhill title.
Annemarie Proell Moser of Austria won her 50th World Cup race in eight years at Bad Kleinkirchheim, Austria, to take her 29th downhill event and clinch the women's downhill title.
TENNIS—The United States defeated Australia 6-1, for the Aetna World Cup in New Haven, Conn. (page 63).
Evonne Goolagong defeated 15-year-old Tracy Austin 4-6, 6-0, 6-2 to win a $100,000 Virginia Slims tournament in Dallas. Tracy, who had beaten Martina Navratilova in the quarter-finals, 6-3, 2-6, 7-6 (5-4), breaking her 37-match streak, is the youngest ever to attain the finals of a Slims tournament.
TRACK & FIELD—VLADIMIR YASHCHENKO set a world indoor high-jump record of 7'8½" at the European championships in Milan, Italy. The previous mark of 7'7¼" was held by Franklin Jacobs. Yashchenko also holds the outdoor record of 7'7¾". MARLIES OELSNER of East Germany established a world record in the women's 60-meter dash (7.12).
Mike Tully set a world indoor record of 18'5¼" in the pole vault at the NCAA indoor championships in Detroit, breaking his old mark by 1¼ inches (page 54).
MILEPOSTS—FIRED: JOHN GUTHRIE, 37, as Georgia's basketball coach. His five-year record was 46-86.
FIRED: By Duquesne, JOHN CINICOLA, 48, as basketball coach. In four years Cinicola had a 52-56 record. He was replaced by his assistant, Mike Rice, 38.
RETIRED: Tennessee basketball Coach RAY MEARS, 51, because of ill health. Mears, who had missed all of last season and part of the previous year because of emotional disorders, was ranked second among active major-college coaches, with a 21-year record of 399-135. He also won three Southeastern Conference titles (1967, '72, '77) and the NCAA Division II championship (1961) at Wittenberg College.
WITHDRAWN: By FRANK (Blinky) PALERMO, 73, his application for a boxing manager's license from the Pennsylvania State Athletic Commission. One reason, he cited, was "unfavorable publicity." Palermo served 7½ years of a 15-year sentence for attempting to extort earnings of a fighter.
DIED: STEVE BILKO, 49, major league first baseman for ten years for six teams; of an undisclosed illness; in Wilkes-Barre, Pa. Bilko, a minor league player of exceptional promise who once hit 56 home runs for Los Angeles of the Pacific Coast League, found the majors a struggle and retired with a career batting average of .249 and 76 home runs.
DIED: BUCKPASSER, 15; of a heart attack; in Paris, Ky. Despite missing the Triple Crown races, Buckpasser was the 1966 Horse of the Year and was the first thoroughbred to earn $1 million in his first two seasons.