PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: Milwaukee, which drew away from its Midwest Division rivals early in the year with 10 straight wins, watched its lead dwindle to half a game. The Bucks lost four times, while second-place Kansas City extended its winning streak to five with a pair of victories. Boston defeated Milwaukee twice, 113-108 behind 25 points from Larry Bird and 97-94 on Chris Ford's last-second three-pointer. The Bucks also lost to Philadelphia and Seattle. K.C. closed in on the division lead by routing Portland 124-85 and Utah 103-87. Otis Birdsong scored 38 in the win over the Blazers, whose losing streak reached 10 games. The Jazz' loss came after Utah had doubled its season victory total with four wins in a row, including a 100-93 triumph over Golden State in which Adrian Dantley (page 88) had 39 points. Even lowly Chicago gained ground on the Bucks by handing Pacific Division leader Seattle a 121-112 defeat. The Sonics needed wins in their other three games to remain one game ahead of the Lakers, who won twice. Against the Nuggets, Los Angeles made 27 consecutive free throws and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar hit on 15 of 18 shots from the field. In the Central Division, Atlanta stretched its lead to 3½ games over San Antonio. The Hawks crushed New Jersey 122-85 and then beat the Knicks 114-102, despite 29 points by Bill Cartwright and 10 blocked shots by Joe Meriweather. Atlanta also swept the 76ers on successive nights. Friday's 103-98 Hawk victory ended a Philly home stand 'during which the Sixers had won nine straight. In Atlanta on Saturday, Eddie Johnson and John Drew scored 51 points in a 112-96 win. The second defeat dropped Philadelphia to two games behind the division-leading Celtics, who were beating the Knicks 99-96 that night. Still, the Sixers' biggest loss of the week was Doug Collins, who will be out for the season with a stress fracture of his right foot.
WBL: While New York swept four games from teams with losing records to move three games ahead in the East, Minnesota, 3-0 for the week, replaced Iowa atop the Midwest, and Houston, 2-0, took over first in the West. St. Louis Guard Elizabeth Silcott, the league's top scorer with a 33.2 average, had 46 points in a 112-111 double-overtime win over San Francisco, which had been the Western leader.
BOXING—RICARDO CARDONA retained his WBA super-bantamweight title with a unanimous decision over Sergio Palma in Barranquilla, Colombia.
Park Chan-Hee knocked out Guty Espadas to retain his WBC flyweight title in Pusan, South Korea.
December 24, 1979
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—EASTERN KENTUCKY defeated Lehigh 30-7 in Orlando, Fla. to win the NCAA Division I-AA championship.
Syracuse won the Independence Bowl at Shreveport, La. 31-7 over McNeese State.
In the Garden State Bowl at East Rutherford, N.J., TEMPLE defeated California 28-17.
Texas A&I beat Oklahoma Central State 20-14 in McAllen, Texas to win the NAIA Division I title.
PRO FOOTBALL—For Washington, one of three teams eliminated from playoff contention in the final week, it came down to the last 1:46. With that much time left in a game at Dallas for the NFC East title, the Redskins led 34-28 and had the Cowboys pinned back at the Dallas 20-yard line. But Quarterback Roger Staubach then completed four of six passes in just 67 seconds, the final one an eight-yard toss to Tony Hill in the end zone. Rafael Septien's extra point made the score 35-34 and gave Dallas its fifth straight division championship. Washington missed qualifying for a wild-card playoff spot because Chicago's 42-6 win over St. Louis pushed the Bears ahead of the Skins in net points within the conference—the determining factor because the two teams didn't play this year—and into the playoffs. Walter Pay-ton gained 157 yards in the Bears' victory to win the NFC rushing title by five yards—1,610-1,605—over the Cards' Ottis Anderson. Earlier in the day Tampa Bay eliminated Chicago from contention for the NFC Central crown. Playing in a downpour at Tampa Stadium, the Bucs beat Kansas City 3-0 on Neil O'Donoghue's 19-yard field goal midway through the fourth quarter. Pittsburgh clinched the AFC Central championship for the sixth time in a row by shutting out the Bills 28-0. Franco Harris rushed for 100 yards and two TDs, and the Steeler defense limited Buffalo to eight first downs, three of them on penalties. Houston, which had tied the Steelers for the division lead with a 20-17 win over Pittsburgh on Monday night, had to settle for an AFC wild-card berth after NFC wild-card Philadelphia defeated it 26-20. Nevertheless, Earl Campbell gained over 100 yards for a record seventh straight week to earn the league rushing championship with 1,697 yards. Cleveland and Oakland would gladly have taken any playoff spot; instead, they were elminated. Cincinnati beat the Browns 16-12 on Quarterback Jack Thompson's five-yard touchdown run two plays after a Cleveland fumble, while Seattle, behind Jim Zorn's two touchdown passes, defeated the Raiders 29-24. Two teams that had already won their divisions, the Dolphins and the Rams, rested many of their regulars and it showed. Miami lost to the Jets 27-24, and Los Angeles was beaten 29-14 by the Saints. In other games, Green Bay beat Detroit 18-13 to finish off the Lions' worst season (2-14) since 1946; New England defeated Minnesota 27-23; Atlanta beat the 49ers 31-21 in O.J. Simpson's final NFL game; and Baltimore routed the Giants 31-7.
HOCKEY—The Flyers still haven't lost since the Flames beat them 63 days ago. By tying Chicago 4-4, Philadelphia broke the club record of 23 straight games without a loss and the team then increased its streak to 26 with two come-from-behind wins, 6-4 over Quebec and 3-2 over Buffalo. Meanwhile Montreal, which in the 1977-78 season ran off the NHL record unbeaten streak of 28 games, couldn't do anything but lose. The Canadiens dropped four games to fall to fourth in the points race; their total of 36 puts them behind the Flyers (47), Sabres (43) and Bruins (37). Worse, Montreal lost to three of the league's weakest teams—Colorado, Edmonton and Winnipeg. The fourth defeat occurred in New York as rookie Right Wing Duane Sutter scored twice in a 4-1 Islander win. Earlier the Islanders had lost 5-4 to the Rangers on a disputed goal by Don Maloney that appeared to hit the crossbar and roll down the outside of the cage. No one questioned the Rangers' other two victories, 2-1 over Detroit and 5-2 over the Black Hawks. The Bruins, who had tied Detroit 6-6 on a goal and three assists by Peter McNab and beaten Vancouver 5-3 behind McNab's hat trick and one assist, were the victims as Chicago snapped an eight-game winless string with a 2-1 victory.
TENNIS—The UNITED STATES defended the Davis Cup by beating Italy 5-0 in San Francisco (page 75).
Tracy Austin defeated Martina Navratilova 6-2, 6-1 to win a $200,000 tournament in Tokyo.
MILEPOSTS—NAMED: 1979 Eclipse Award winners as racing's best thoroughbreds: AFFIRMED, Horse of the Year and top older horse or gelding; ROCKHILL NATIVE, 2-year-old male horse; SMART ANGLE, 2-year-old filly; SPECTACULAR BID, 3-year-old colt; DAVONA DALE, 3-year-old filly; BOWL GAME, male turf horse; TRILLION, female turf horse; WAYA, older filly or mare; STAR DE NASKRA, sprinter; and MARTIE'S ANGER, steeplechase or hurdle horse.
Mike White, 43, as head football coach at Illinois, replacing Gary Moeller, who was fired.
As LPGA Rookie of the Year, BETH DANIEL, 23, who had 15 top ten finishes and $97,027 in earnings.
RESIGNED: First-year coach of the Canadiens, BERNIE (Boom Boom) GEOFFRION, who guided Montreal to a 15-9-6 record. Assistant Coach CLAUDE RUEL, 41, was named to replace him.
SUSPENDED: By the New York State Athletic Commission until new safety procedures are instituted, all pro boxing in that state. The ruling follows an inquiry into the Nov. 28 death of middleweight Willie Classen from head injuries suffered during a bout at Madison Square Garden.
George Halas Jr., 54, president of the Chicago Bears since 1963 and the son of the team's founder and owner; of a heart attack; in Chicago.