PRO BASKETBALL—Not until Boston won its 10th game in a row could the Celtics gain any ground on the Atlantic Division-leading 76ers, whose 33-5 record put them on pace to break the 1971-72 Lakers' league record for victories (69). A Philly 10-game win streak was snapped 125-121 by Denver on the same night Boston was winning its 10th straight, 112-107 over Atlanta. Among the Celtics' earlier victories were a 107-102 beating of Cleveland in which Robert Parish had 24 points and 16 rebounds and a 117-108 triumph over the Knicks that was highlighted by Larry Bird's 28 points and 20 rebounds. Pacific Division leader Phoenix, whose 32-8 record was the NBA's second-best at week's end—Boston ranked third at 28-8—also was on a streak. The Suns' seven consecutive wins included a 116-106 victory over second-place Los Angeles that increased Phoenix' lead to 6½ games. The Lakers' one bright spot: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar became the fifth NBA player to score 25,000 career points while pouring in 42 against the Spurs. The Pacific had two other hot teams in San Diego, which escaped the division basement with six wins in a row, and Portland, which got up to within one game of the .500 level after 12 victories in 13 starts. In the Midwest Division, on the other hand, San Antonio had stretched its lead to nine games while playing only slightly better than .500 ball for more than a month. Since Dec. 14 the division's other teams were a collective 6-27. At least they and some of the league's other stragglers could take solace in strong individual performances. Elvin Hayes' 15 rebounds in the Bullets' 109-94 victory over New Jersey moved him past Walt Bellamy into fourth place on the alltime rebounding list with 14,251. Utah's Adrian Dantley, with a 31.7-point-per-game average, retained his scoring lead over Houston's Moses Malone (28.1) and San Antonio's George Gervin (28.0).
BOXING—LUPE PINTOR retained his WBC bantamweight title with a majority decision over Alberto Davila in Las Vegas.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—Florida beat Maryland 35-20 in the Tangerine Bowl; Brigham Young won the Holiday Bowl 46-45 over SMU; Penn State defeated Ohio State 31-19 in the Fiesta Bowl; Purdue scored a 28-25 victory over Missouri in the Liberty Bowl; Arkansas whipped Tulane 34-15 in the Hall of Fame Bowl; and Nebraska defeated Mississippi State 31-17 in the Sun Bowl. Boise State won the NCAA Division I-AA title by beating Eastern Kentucky 31-29 in Sacramento, and Elon defeated Northeastern Oklahoma 17-10 at Burlington, N.C. to win the NAIA Division I title.
PRO FOOTBALL—Dallas defeated Los Angeles 34-13 and Oakland beat Houston 27-7 in the wild-card playoff games (page 16). A week earlier, as the regular season ended, Buffalo won the AFC East title by edging San Francisco 18-13; San Diego clinched first place in the AFC West with a 26-17 win over Pittsburgh; Cleveland's 27-24 victory over Cincinnati gave the Browns the AFC Central championship; Houston defeated Minnesota, the NFC Central winner, 20-16; Philadelphia won the NFC East despite a 35-27 loss to Dallas; NFC West champ Atlanta also lost, 20-17 in overtime to Los Angeles, which also had beaten Dallas 38-14 in a Monday game; the Raiders won 33-17 over the Giants; New England overcame New Orleans 38-27; the Jets beat Miami 24-17; Chicago defeated Tampa Bay 14-13; Detroit routed Green Bay 24-3; Washington won 31-7 over St. Louis; Kansas City beat Baltimore 38-28; and Denver defeated Seattle 25-17.
January 5, 1981
HARNESS RACING—In the final race of his career, NIATROSS, Clint Galbraith in the sulky, won the one-mile $35,000 Elsie Berger Pace at Pompano Park by 15 lengths over Wizard Almahurst in a time of 1:54[3/5]. The winner retired with $2,019,212 in earnings and 37 wins in 39 career races.
HOCKEY—While the Islanders opened up their biggest margin of the season over the second-place Flyers by going 4-0-2, several of the league's tailenders were having noteworthy weeks as well. Hartford and Detroit, for instance, each were 3-1-2; Quebec had three wins and a tie; and Winnipeg (page 14) finally ended its winless streak at a record 30 games by defeating Colorado 5-4. It was the Islanders, however, who were really rolling, beating the Jets 5-4 and 6-2, the Nordiques 5-2 and the Black Hawks 9-0. Against Chicago, the Isles' Mike Bossy had his sixth hat trick of the season, only one shy of the record shared by Joe Malone, Phil Esposito and Rick Martin. A 5-5 tie with the Whalers left the Islanders with 54 points and put them ahead of Philly (51), Los Angeles (50) and St. Louis (49). Hartford's Mike Rogers had two goals in the draw with the Islanders and at least one point in each of the Whalers' other outings to increase his scoring streak to 17 games, a league high this season. Anton Stastny of Quebec, also on a scoring binge, had a pair of goals in a 4-1 victory over St. Louis and two more in a 6-5 win over Hartford, while former U.S. Olympian Steve Christoff scored three goals for his first NHL hat trick in Minnesota's 6-2 triumph over Detroit. For the Flyers, rookie Goalie Rick St. Croix' first NHL shutout, 2-0 over the Rockies, gave him a 1.89 goals-against average. Philadelphia was on the other end of a shutout against Washington. Mike Palmateer stopped 44 Flyer shots in a 6-0 win that was the 7-year-old Caps' first victory ever against Philadelphia.
TENNIS—FRITZ BUEHNING defeated Brian Teacher 6-3, 6-7, 7-6 to win the $125,000 New South Wales Open in Sydney, Australia.
MILEPOSTS—FIRED: As coach of the Denver Nuggets, DONNIE WALSH, 39, following his team's 11-20 start this season. He was replaced by DOUG MOE, 41.
Fort Lauderdale Strikers Coach COR VAN DER HART, 52, whose team finished the 1980 season with an 18-14 record but lost to the Cosmos in the Soccer Bowl. ECKHARD KRAUTZUN, 39, who coached the Houston Hurricane in 1980, was hired to replace him.
FOUND GUILTY: In Ontario Provincial Court, of cocaine possession, Texas Rangers' Pitcher FERGUSON JENKINS, 37, who was arrested Aug. 25 after drugs allegedly were found in his luggage at the Toronto airport. Jenkins, who pleaded not guilty to the charge, received no sentence, and was given an absolute discharge by Judge Gerard Young, who cited Jenkins' exemplary past record.
HIRED: DENNIS GREEN, 31, former offensive coordinator at Stanford, to coach Northwestern's football team. He is the Big Ten's first black head football coach.
Former Arizona State Football Coach FRANK KUSH, 51, to coach the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the CFL.
NAMED: As winners of thoroughbred racing's 1980 Eclipse Awards—SPECTACULAR BID, horse of the year and best older horse; TEMPERENCE HILL, best 3-year-old colt; GENUINE RISK, best 3-year-old filly; LORD AVIE, best 2-year-old colt, HEAVENLY CAUSE, best 2-year-old filly; JOHN HENRY, best male turf horse; JUST A GAME II, best female turf horse; GLORIOUS SONG, best older filly or mare; PLUGGED NICKLE, best sprinter; ZACCIO, best steeplechaser; CHRIS McCARRON, best jockey; BUD DELP, best trainer; FRANK LOVATO JR., best apprentice jockey; MR. and MRS. BERTRAM FIRESTONE, best owners; and MRS. HENRY D. PAXSON, best breeder.
PLACED ON PROBATION: For two years because of more than 60 NCAA rule violations occurring between 1973 and 1978, the University of Colorado football program. Colorado will be barred from postseason play and NCAA telecasts until Dec. 8, 1981.
RESIGNED: After more than seven seasons as coach of the New Jersey Nets, KEVIN LOUGHERY, 40, who was replaced by his assistant coach, BOB MacKINNON, 53. Loughery's record with the Nets was 297-318 overall and 12-23 this season.
Texas Tech football Coach REX DOCKERY, 38, whose three-year record at the school was 15-16-2. He will take over as coach at Memphis State.
After guiding Boston College's football team to a 12-21 mark over three seasons, ED CHLEBEK, 38, who will become coach at Kent State.
SIGNED: By the Yankees to the most lucrative contract in baseball history, a 10-year deal reportedly worth almost $22 million, free agent Outfielder DAVE WIN-FIELD, 29 (page 22). The Mets signed First Baseman-Outfielder RUSTY STAUB, 36, while the Brewers got Third Baseman ROY HOWELL, 27.
DIED: Race driver PETER GREGG, 40, a six-time champion on the International Motor Sports Association GT circuit; of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound; in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla.