PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: It had been a long time since New York-area fans had much to cheer about, but last week they got a double treat. The young Knicks ran their winning streak to five games and went over .500 for the first time in a month. Michael Ray Richardson, who leads the league in assists (8.79 per game) and steals (3.28), had 17 assists—10 in one quarter—and four swipes in pacing New York to a 128-120 victory over San Antonio and 13 assists and five steals in a 138-101 win over San Diego. In that game the Knicks led the Clippers 42-12 after the first quarter. Meanwhile the Knicks' neighbors, the Nets, beat Houston 104-101, despite 39 points from Moses Malone, and Central Division leader Atlanta 126-119. After missing 33 games because of an injured right knee, Center Artis Gilmore returned to the lineup and led the Bulls to a 121-118 victory over San Diego. George Gervin scored 42 points in San Antonio's 118-109 win over Phoenix, and then the Spurs scored 18 consecutive points in the fourth quarter to beat Boston 119-111. Nonetheless the Celtics remained on top in the Atlantic Division, with a league-leading .750 percentage, 1½ games in front of Philadelphia. In a 128-121 victory over Utah, Scott Wedman of Kansas City scored a career-high 45 points, and then got 27 more points, and Otis Birdsong had 37 as the Kings defeated the Hawks 112-107. The Kings also beat the Spurs 115-106 and took a half-game Midwest lead over Milwaukee, which lost to the Jazz 95-88. A rematch of last year's championship series went into double overtime. This time, though, Washington defeated Seattle 139-134, Elvin Hayes coming through with nine points in the second OT. The Sonics remained first in the Pacific Division, 16 percentage points in front of Los Angeles. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar scored 60 points in the Lakers' two wins and brought his career total to 23,192, putting him past Elgin Baylor and into fifth on the all-time list. And Denver's George McGinnis didn't seem to learn his lesson. In his first game following a three-game suspension for knocking down a referee. McGinnis was ejected for getting two technicals on the same second-quarter play—for arguing with the referee. The Nuggets beat Detroit anyhow, 135-116.
WBL: New York continued to dominate the league, beating Minnesota 114-97, Iowa 109-101 and St. Louis 101-100, to bring its Eastern Division lead to 4½ games and its record to 13-2. San Francisco and Houston are tied for first place in the West, and Minnesota, losing two, remained on top in the Midwest.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—Undefeated Alabama beat Arkansas 24-9 in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans and won unanimously the unofficial national title, and USC defeated Ohio State 17-16 in the Rose Bowl (page 28). In the Orange Bowl in Miami, Oklahoma won 24-7 over Florida State; with 12 seconds to go. Eric Herring caught a tipped six-yard touchdown pass from Terry Elston to give Houston a 17-14 victory over Nebraska in the Cotton Bowl in Dallas; Baylor beat Clemson 24-18 at the Peach Bowl in Atlanta; and Purdue triumphed 27-22 over Tennessee in the Blue-bonnet Bowl in Houston.
PRO FOOTBALL—Pittsburgh defeated Houston 27-13 for the AFC title; Los Angeles won the NFC championship with a 9-0 victory over Tampa Bay (page 14).
GOLF—BOB CLAMPETT, 19, a junior at Brigham Young, won the $120,000 Spalding Invitational Pro-Am on the Monterey Peninsula, a non-tour event, with a 16-under-par 272 and became the first amateur since 1956 to win a significant open tournament.
HOCKEY—It was no more Mr. Nice Guys for the Flyers as they defended themselves against the New York Rangers and Madison Square Garden fans to extend their record unbeaten streak to 34 games (page 22). The 5-3 victory brought Philadelphia's point total to 60, five more than Buffalo, which beat Pittsburgh 5-4 and Winnipeg 6-2 and has won 15 of its last 19 games. Chicago defeated Boston 5-3 and Colorado 5-2 at home and then traveled to Montreal to hand the Canadiens their 16th loss of the season, despite the return to the lineup of Montreal Goalie Denis Herron, who had missed 23 games with a fractured collarbone. The Canadiens also lost 5-3 to Pittsburgh for their seventh straight road defeat. Darryl Sittler of Toronto ended a six-week drought to score his 300th career goal, but to no avail. The Maple Leafs lost 7-3 to Quebec and have just 36 points, two fewer than the expansion Nordiques. Rogie Vachon stopped 25 shots to help Detroit to a 4-2 win over the Islanders, who now have been beaten 16 times, one more than all last year. Gordie Howe entered his fifth decade in pro hockey as one of Hartford's most consistent scorers, with 11 goals. That may explain the Whalers' 9-17-10 record, especially since Howe has not scored since Dec. 7.
HORSE RACING—In his first start as a 4-year-old and his first in California, SPECTACULAR BID ($2.60), Bill Shoemaker up, won the $81,550 Malibu Stakes at Santa Anita, covering the seven furlongs in a track-record 1:20 and finishing five lengths ahead of Flying Paster.
SWIMMING—TRACY CAULKINS won the 200-meter individual medley in 2:13.69, breaking her own world record set in 1978 by .38; at the Women's International Competition in Austin, Texas.
TENNIS—BRIAN GOTTFRIED and RAUL RAMIREZ defeated Wojtak Fibak and Tom Okker 3-6, 6-4, 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 to win the $200,000 World Doubles Tennis Championships at Olympia, England.
Guillermo Vilas won his second straight Australian Open title in Melbourne 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 over John Sadri. BARBARA JORDAN defeated Sharon Walsh 6-3, 6-3 in the finals of the women's singles.
TRACK—Two world indoor records were set at the Muhammad Ali Invitational in Long Beach. HOUSTON McTEAR won the 60-meters in 6.38, and EVELYN ASHFORD won the women's 60 in 7.04 (page 103).
MILEPOSTS—FIRED: By Arizona State, FRED MILLER, the athletic director who dismissed Football Coach Frank Kush on Oct. 13.
By the University of Florida as basketball coach, JOHN LOTZ, 44, after guiding the Gators to a 4-7 start this season. Ed Visscher was named acting coach.
NAMED: As head football coach by Northern Illinois. BILL MALLORY, 44, former coach (1974-78) of the University of Colorado, who had a 35-21-1 record.
HIRED: As coach of the CFL Toronto Argonauts, WILLIE WOOD, 43, former Packer defensive back. He is the first black coach of a major pro football team.
DIED: FRANK WYKOFF, 70, a sprinter who won gold medals as a member of the U.S. 400-meter relay teams in the 1928, 1932 and 1936 Olympics; of emphysema; in Pasadena, Calif.
Middleweight Boxer TONY THOMAS, 20, of a blood clot on the brain suffered during a Dec. 22 fight in Spartanburg, S.C.