PRO BASKETBALL—Philadelphia, Milwaukee, San Antonio and Phoenix (page 14) all retained their divisional leads, but the Suns' margin in the Pacific was down to three games after a 4-0 week by Los Angeles. The Lakers defeated Utah 113-100 on 24 points and 17 rebounds-by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Dallas 103-92 when Abdul-Jabbar hit for 10 unanswered points late in the fourth quarter. Kareem then scored eight straight fourth-period points in a 109-108 win over Houston and had 30 in a 113-107 triumph over Seattle. Another Pacific Division entry, the Trail Blazers, began their drive to escape last place by lengthening their victory streak to five. Portland beat Houston 106-100, San Antonio 116-115—despite 41 points by George Gervin—and Seattle 111-98 on a career-high 30 points from Guard Jim Paxson. The Atlantic Division-leading 76ers swept three games to stay ahead of Boston (4-1) and New York (3-1). Steve Mix scored all 10 of his points in the last six minutes of Philly's 96-83 win over Cleveland, and Bobby Jones was the team's high scorer in both a 113-100 victory over the Bulls and a 95-79 triumph over Washington. Among the Celtics' four wins were a 112-89 blowout of the Central Division leader, Milwaukee, and a 119-104 rout of New Jersey in which Robert Parish had 29 points, 18 rebounds and seven blocked shots. The Knicks got 42 points from Ray Williams in a 107-104 victory over the Bullets but barely edged the Nets 106-104 when New Jersey's Mike Newlin poured in 38. In the Midwest, where the Spurs are the only team above .500, Utah, an early-season surprise, continued its backward slide, losing four straight to drop behind the Rockets into third place.
BOXING—RAFAEL LIMON won the WBC super-featherweight title vacated by Alexis Arguello with a 15th-round knockout of Ildelfonso Bethelmy in Los Angeles.
Wilfredo Gomez knocked out Jose Cervantes in the third round in Miami to successfully defend his WBC super-bantamweight title.
Peter Mathebula won the WBA flyweight title with a 15-round split decision over defending champion Taesik Kim in Los Angeles.
December 22, 1980
Salvador Sanchez retained his WBC featherweight title in El Paso with a unanimous 15-round decision over Juan LaPorte.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—In Division II championship games, Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo defeated Eastern Illinois 21-13 at Albuquerque to win the NCAA title, and Pacific Lutheran won the NAIA title by beating Wilmington (Ohio) College 38-10 in Tacoma, Wash. Southern Mississippi beat McNeese State 16-14 in the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La. and Houston won 35-0 over Navy in the Garden State Bowl in East Rutherford, N.J.
PRO FOOTBALL—On the next-to-last week of regular-season play, Minnesota and Atlanta became the first teams to nail down divisional titles. While the Vikings clinched the NFC Central by beating Cleveland 28-23 on a 46-yard touchdown pass as time expired (page 22), Steve Bartkowski's three TD throws in a 35-10 victory over the 49ers gave the Falcons the NFC West championship. The Browns' loss dropped them into a tie for the AFC Central lead with Houston, which defeated the Packers 22-3 on Earl Campbell's two touchdowns and 181-yard rushing performance. Pittsburgh, already out of the AFC Central race, kept its slim wild-card hopes alive with a 21-16 win over the Chiefs, but wasn't helped any when New England, San Diego and Oakland also won. The Patriots upset AFC East-leading Buffalo 24-2, the Chargers handed Seattle its eighth loss in a row, 21-14, and the Raiders beat Denver 24-21. New England, despite a 16-13 overtime loss to Miami on Monday night, remained in contention for the AFC East title, while Oakland and San Diego shared the AFC West lead going into the final week. In other games, the Saints won for the first time all season, 21-20 over the Jets; Cincinnati beat the Bears 17-14 on Jim Breech's overtime field goal; Detroit defeated Tampa Bay 27-14; the Eagles won 17-3 over St. Louis; Miami beat Baltimore 24-14; and Washington edged the Giants 16-13.
HOCKEY—After two wins and a tie apiece, the Flyers, Kings and Islanders ended the week exactly as they had begun it: with Philly in first place and the other two teams tied for second, one point behind. The three were deadlocked for the top spot going into Saturday night, when L.A. and the Islanders played draws and the Flyers beat Pittsburgh 6-5. Philadelphia, which had tied Chicago 2-2 and defeated Colorado 4-2, used Bobby Clarke's hat trick to overcome a four-goal performance by the Penguins' Paul Gardner, while Los Angeles got two tallies each from Charlie Simmer and Dave Taylor to tie the Whalers 5-5. The Islanders eked out their 4-4 tie with Calgary on Butch Goring's goal with 21 seconds left. Fourth-place St. Louis went 2-1 for the week to stay within three points of the Flyers, beating the slumping North Stars 4-1 on two goals and two assists by Tony Currie and Colorado 9-4 as Goalie Ed Staniowski got his second assist of the season. The Rangers, 7-2-1 under new Coach Craig Patrick, were a lowly team on the way up. They stretched their victory streak to five with wins over Chicago (5-4), Washington (6-2) and Colorado (4-3). In Bill Sutherland's first game coaching Winnipeg, however, the last-place Jets continued to lose, falling 4-3 to Minnesota to extend their winless streak to 26.
SOCCER—The University of San Francisco defeated Indiana 4-3 in overtime to win the NCAA title in Tampa.
TENNIS—JOHN McENROE beat Vijay Amritraj 6-1, 6-2, 6-1 in the finals of the $320,000 WCT Challenge Cup in Montreal.
Hana Mandlikova defeated Sue Barker 6-2, 6-4 to win the $125,000 South Australian Women's Open in Adelaide.
MILEPOSTS—FIRED: DAVE BRISTOL, 47, after managing the San Francisco Giants to a 75-86 record and a fifth-place finish in the National League Western Division last season.
With his team's winless streak at 25 games and its record at 1-20-7, Winnipeg Jets Coach TOM McVIE, 45, who was replaced by his assistant, BILL SUTHERLAND, 45.
HIRED: As San Diego State football coach, DOUG SCOVIL, 53, formerly offensive coordinator at Brigham Young. He replaces Claude Gilbert, 49, who was fired.
SIGNED: By Denver, Forward KIKI VANDEWEGHE, 23, Dallas' top 1980 draft choice. The Nuggets will give the Mavericks first-round picks in 1981 and 1985 for Vandeweghe, who was unable to come to contract terms with Dallas. Denver also will receive the Mays' first-round draft choice in 1986.
AS FREE AGENTS: Catcher-Infielder DAVE ROBERTS, 29, who hit .238 with the Rangers last season, to a five-year, $1.1 million contract with the Astros; Pitcher JOHN D'ACQUISTO, 29, whose 1980 record with the Padres and Expos was 2-5, to a four-year deal with the Angels worth $1.15 million; and First Baseman LEE MAY, 37, formerly of the Orioles, to a one-year contract with the Royals.
TRADED: Red Sox Shortstop RICK BURLESON, 29, and Third Baseman BUTCH HOBSON, 29, to the Angels for Pitcher MARK CLEAR, 24, Third Baseman CARNEY LANSFORD, 23, and Outfielder RICK MILLER, 32; Pirate Righthander BERT BLYLEVEN, 29, to the Indians along with Catcher MANNY SANGUILLEN, 36, for four players; Third Baseman KEN REITZ, 29, Outfielder LEON DURHAM, 23, and Infielder TY WALLER, 23, of the Cardinals for Cub Reliever BRUCE SUTTER, 27; St. Louis Catcher TERRY KENNEDY, 24, and six other players to the Padres for Pitcher ROLLIE FINGERS, 34, First Baseman GENE TENACE, 34, Pitcher BOB SHIRLEY, 26, and Catcher BOB GEREN, 19; Fingers, Cardinal Catcher TED SIMMONS, 31, and Pitchers PETE VUCKOVICH, 28, and DAVE LA POINTE, 21, to the Brewers for Outfielder SIXTO LEZCANO, 27, and Pitcher LARY SORENSON, 25; and Texas Outfielder RICHIE ZISK, 31, pitcher KEN CLAY, 26, and four other Rangers and cash to Seattle for Pitcher RICK HONEYCUTT, 28, Outfielder LEON ROBERTS, 29, and two others.
DIED: Former Yankee (1955-67) and Red Sox (1967-68) Catcher ELSTON HOWARD, 51, who was the American League's MVP in 1963 and was its first black coach (1969-79) with the Yanks; after being hospitalized for a heart condition in New York. He hit 167 career home runs, batted .274 and was selected to the AL All-Star team 12 times.