PRO BASKETBALL—Elvin Hayes scored a total of 93 points to lead Washington, winner of 15 of its last 17 games, to three straight victories. During a 36-point outburst against San Diego, Hayes became the sixth player to score 20,000 points and take down 10,000 rebounds in an NBA career. The wins enabled the Bullets to take a three-game lead in the Atlantic Division over Philadelphia, which won twice without losing. After handing Midwest Division leader Kansas City its only defeat of the week by a score of 120-100, the 76ers snapped Houston's four-game winning streak 91-84. Since the beginning of that streak, Moses Malone, the league's leading rebounder, has averaged 18.4 rebounds and 22.8 points per game for the Rockets, who trail first-place Atlanta by half a game in the Central Division. Denver had won four in a row until Portland beat the Nuggets 116-113, thereby preventing them from gaining ground on the Kings. Chicago couldn't close in on the division leaders, either, but the Bulls did take over third place from Indiana, which dropped all three of its games. Chicago has won seven of its last eight games and held its opponents to 100 points or less in all but two of those outings. In the Pacific Division, Seattle, which won two of three, has a two-game lead over Phoenix. Though the Suns were 1-1 for the week, they took over second place from Los Angeles, which lost three of five.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—FLORIDA A&M beat Massachusetts 35-28 in Wichita Falls, Texas to win the first NCAA Division I-AA championship; ANGELO STATE of Texas defeated Elon of North Carolina 34-14 in McAllen, Texas for the NAIA Division I title; ARIZONA STATE overcame Rutgers 34-18 in East Rutherford, N.J. to win the inaugural Garden State Bowl; and EAST CAROLINA beat Louisiana Tech 35-13 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La.
PRO FOOTBALL—Philadelphia, Minnesota and Atlanta secured the last three NFC playoff spots, but only the Eagles did so by winning. Paced by a defense that limited New York Giant runners to 48 yards and by Wilbert Montgomery's two touchdowns and 130 yards on 25 carries, Philadelphia beat New York 20-3. Oakland, which had lost its previous three games, intercepted Fran Tarkenton five times en route to a 27-20 victory over the Vikings, who nevertheless won their sixth straight NFC Central title when Green Bay dropped a 31-14 decision to Los Angeles that eliminated the Packers from the playoffs. Cullen Bryant led the Ram attack with two TDs and 121 yards on 30 carries. Steve Schubert's 73-yard punt return for a touchdown in the third period lifted Chicago to a 14-10 upset of Washington on Saturday, assuring Atlanta of a playoff spot as an NFC wild-card team. The next day St. Louis trounced the Falcons 42-21 as Jim Hart, who completed 22 of 40 passes for 333 yards, threw for three touchdowns and ran for two others. Dan Fouts hit on 21 of 40 passes for 369 yards and four touchdowns to lead San Diego to a 45-24 defeat of Houston, the Chargers' seventh victory in their last eight games. In a matchup of two playoff-bound teams, Pittsburgh built a 21-0 halftime lead, but had to stop Denver's Lonnie Perrin for no gain on the one-yard line on the game's final play to preserve a 21-17 win. Terry Bradshaw's two scoring tosses increased his league-leading total to 28, most in the NFL since 1970. In other games, Cincinnati, which had upset Los Angeles 20-19 on Monday night, routed Cleveland 48-16; Seattle beat Kansas City 23-19 to become the first third-year expansion team to win nine games; New Orleans defeated Tampa Bay 17-10 to finish with the best record (7-9) in its 12-year history; by losing to Detroit 33-14, San Francisco ended up with the league's worst record (2-14); Dallas beat the Jets 30-7; and Baltimore, which had won three consecutive AFC East titles, dropped a 21-14 decision to Buffalo and finished in a last-place tie with the Bills.
HOCKEY—NHL: After playing to a 4-4 tie with Minnesota, Boston ran off three straight wins and extended its Adams Division lead over second-place Toronto to 12 points. Vancouver lost all three of its games but ended the week in a tie with Chicago for first place in the Smythe Division because the Black Hawks managed only a tie in four outings. In fact, last-place Colorado, which was 2-1, was the sole team in the division to win a game. Montreal won four times to extend its Norris Division lead over second-place Los Angeles to 16 points (page 16). Only seven points separate all the teams in the Patrick Division. The first-place Islanders, after dropping a 4-3 decision to Montreal that ended their unbeaten streak at 15, tied the Kings and St. Louis and beat Detroit.
December 25, 1978
WHA: By winning twice without losing, New England moved into a first-place tie with Quebec, which triumphed in only one of its four games. Led by Andre La-Croix' hat trick, Mark Howe's goal and three assists and his father Gordie's two goals, the Whalers beat the now-defunct Indianapolis Racers 7-4 and then purchased two of Indy's players, Right Wing Blaine Stoughton and Defenseman Dave Inkpen. Both were in uniform for New England's 2-1 defeat of the Nordiques, but neither contributed to the scoring.
TENNIS—CHRIS EVERT beat Martina Navratilova 7-5, 6-2 to win the $200,000 World Women's Championship in Tokyo.
Ilie Nastase beat Peter Fleming 2-6, 5-6, 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 to win the $320,000 WCT Challenge Cup in Montego Bay, Jamaica.
MILEPOSTS—ACQUITTED: By a Jefferson County (Colo.) District Court jury, heavyweight boxer and onetime No. 5 contender, RON LYLE, 37, on charges of second-degree murder in the shooting of his close friend Vernon Clark.
CONVICTED: By a Burlington County (N.J.) State Superior Court jury, jockeys PAUL KALLAI, JOHN KEVIN DALY, JESUS GUADALUPE, STEVE PLOMCHOK and RALPH ORTIZ and trainers ANTHONY FAMIGLIETTI and MICKEY CROCK on charges of fixing, conspiring or attempting to fix horse races four years ago at Garden State Park.
DISBANDED: The Indianapolis Racers of the World Hockey Association, leaving the league with six teams. The last place Racers, who had a 5-18-2 record and an average attendance of 6,219, were the 10th club to fold in the WHA's seven seasons.
FIRED: By the Giants, Coach JOHN McVAY, 47, whose record was 14-23. Concurrently, Director of Operations ANDY ROBUSTELLI, 52, resigned.
HIRED: By Duke to replace fired football Coach Mike McGee, SHIRLEY (RED) WILSON, 52, who had a 10-year record of 72-34-3 at Elon College.
NAMED: Coach of the U.S. women's basketball team for the 1980 Olympics, SUE GUNTER, 39, who has coached 14 seasons at Stephen F. Austin State.
NAMED: Winner of the E. Roland Harriman Harness Horse of the Year award, ABERCROMBIE. The 3-year-old pacer set a one-year earnings record of $703,260.