PRO BASKETBALL—New Jersey Guard Otis Bird-song and Dallas Forward Mark Aguirre each sang themselves a winning rendition of Happy Birthday to You. Birdsong celebrated turning 28 with 10 fourth-quarter points to lead the Nets past Philadelphia 100-93. Aguirre reached 24 with a 25-footer at the buzzer and 40 points overall to pace the Midwest Division-leading Mavs past Golden State 126-123 in overtime. The Sixers held on to the Atlantic Division lead with a 97-87 win over Central Division-leading Milwaukee. The loss snapped a seven-game Bucks streak. Boston stayed on Philly's heels by winning four games but lost Forward Larry Bird for an undetermined time when he strained ligaments in his right knee in a 119-90 rout of Denver. Los Angeles remained atop the Pacific Division despite a 109-98 loss to New York.
COLLEGE FOOTBALL—AIR FORCE defeated Mississippi 9-3 to win the Independence Bowl in Shreve-port, La.
North Dakota State whipped Central State of Ohio 41-21 in the Palm Bowl, the NCAA Division II title game.
PRO FOOTBALL—Pittsburgh, which had whipped the New York Jets 34-7 on Saturday (page 18), had to wait a day to clinch the AFC Central title. The helping hand came from, believe it or not, hapless Houston, which upset Cleveland 34-27. The Oilers grabbed a 24-6 second-quarter lead by capitalizing on two Browns turnovers and a 93-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by rookie Steve Brown. But Houston needed Oliver Luck's 43-yard touchdown pass to Tim Smith with 6:17 left to play for the victory. Denver clinched an AFC wild-card playoff berth with a 21-19 comeback victory over Baltimore. John Elway threw for three fourth-quarter TDs to bring the 9-6 Broncos back from a 19-0 deficit. Seattle, 8-7, remained in the driver's seat for the other AFC wild-card slot with a 17-12 win over the New York Giants. Cleveland, New England and Buffalo, also 8-7, are in contention as well. The Patriots shocked the Los Angeles Rams 21-7 in Anaheim, Fullback Mosi Tatupu rushing for all three New England TDs. The Bills lost 23-10 to San Francisco, which at 9-6 moved a game ahead of the Rams and the Saints in the NFC West. New Orleans held onto its playoff hopes with a 20-17 overtime win against Philadelphia. Morten Andersen kicked field goals of 52 and 50 yards; the second, with 5:30 gone in overtime, was the game-winner. Detroit lost to Cincinnati 17-9 but remained atop the NFC Central by virtue of its 13-2 win over Minnesota Monday night. The Bengals' defense, tops in the league, held Lion Halfback Billy Sims to 80 yards, snapping his string of 100-yard games at four. San Diego edged Kansas City 41-38, though Chief Quarterback Bill Kenney, who threw for 411 yards, became the fourth man in league history to throw for more than 4,000 yards in a season. St. Louis upset the AFC West champion Raiders 34-24; Miami, the AFC East winner, beat Atlanta 31-24; Chicago defeated Minnesota 19-13; and Washington, 13-2, took the NFC East lead by blowing out Dallas 31-10 (page 12).
December 19, 1983
HOCKEY—The Islanders completed a successful Western road swing with a 4-2 victory over Norris Division-leading Minnesota. But the win, which moved New York into first in the Patrick Division, wasn't as spectacular a performance for the Islanders as their 4-4 tie in Los Angeles. The Kings led 3-0 after two periods, but New York scored three goals in the final seven minutes to salvage a draw—and a point in the standings. Edmonton, the Smythe Division leader, went the Isles one point better. The Oilers spotted Vancouver a 4-0 lead and then came back to win 5-4, with Right Wing Willy Lindstrom scoring twice. The Canucks exacted revenge later in the week by beating Edmonton 3-2 behind the 26 saves of rookie Goalie Frank Caprice, who began the week with the minor league Fredericton (New Brunswick) Express. In an Atlantic Division showdown, Buffalo, led by Defenseman Phil Housley's goal and assist, beat the Bruins 4-2. And Quebec stayed close by winning a club-record seventh straight 6-4 at Los Angeles. But the Bruins held on to a one-point lead in the division by defeating Winnipeg 4-2.
HORSE RACING—JOHN HENRY ($5.00), Chris McCarron up, beat Zalataia by half a length to win the $500,000 Hollywood Turf Cup at Hollywood Park. The 8-year-old gelding ran the 1‚⅛ miles in 2:16[3/5] and became the first thoroughbred to win more than $4 million.
COLLEGE SOCCER—INDIANA defeated Columbia 1-0 in two overtimes to win the NCAA championship (page 20).
INDOOR SOCCER—MISL: In a battle for the Western Division lead, Forward Gordon Hill scored a double hat trick—that's six goals—in leading Kansas City past St. Louis 8-7 before 16,329 Checkerdome fans. East-leading Cleveland ran its winning streak to six games with a 7-3 triumph at New York.
NASL: Tampa Bay continued to walk in the footsteps of its NFL townsmen. The Rowdies dropped to 0-6 with losses to San Diego (7-3) and Chicago (5-4). The Sting moved into first with a 10-5 win over Tulsa.
TENNIS—MATS WILANDER trounced top-seeded Ivan Lendl 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to win the men's singles title at the Australian Open in Melbourne. MARTINA NAVRATILOVA beat Kathy Jordan 6-2, 7-6 to win the women's crown.
MILEPOSTS—ENDED: After 100 days, a lockout by the NBA of its referees (page 9).
NAMED: As winner of the 1983 Lombardi Trophy and the Outland Award, both given to the nation's best college football lineman, Nebraska Offensive Guard DEAN STEINKUHLER, 22.
TRADED: During baseball's winter meetings in Nashville, by the Boston Red Sox, Pitcher JOHN TUDOR, 29, to the Pittsburgh Pirates for Outfielder MIKE EASLER, 33; by the Minnesota Twins, Outfielder GARY WARD, 30, to the Texas Rangers for pitchers MIKE SMITHSON, 28, and JOHN BUTCHER, 26, and a minor-leaguer; by the Rangers, Catcher JIM SUNDBERG, 32, to the Milwaukee Brewers for Catcher NED YOST, 28, and a minor-leaguer; by the New York Mets, Pitcher CARLOS DIAZ, 25, and utility man BOB BAILOR, 32, to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two minor-leaguers; by the Dodgers, Pitcher JOE BECKWITH, 28, to the Kansas City Royals for three minor-leaguers; by the Royals, Pitcher MIKE ARMSTRONG, 29, and a minor-leaguer to the New York Yankees for two minor-leaguers; by the Yankees, two minor-leaguers and cash to the California Angels for Shortstop TIM FOLI, 33; by the Montreal Expos, Pitcher RAY BURRIS, 33, to the Oakland A's for a minor-leaguer and cash; by the A's, Third Baseman-Outfielder WAYNE GROSS, 31, to the Baltimore Orioles for Reliever TIM STODDARD, 30; by the Philadelphia Phillies, First Baseman TONY PEREZ, 41, to the Cincinnati Reds for a player to be named later, and Reliever RON REED, 41, to the Chicago White Sox for cash or a player to be named later; by the Toronto Blue Jays, Outfielder BARRY BON-NELL, 30, to the Seattle Mariners for Pitcher BRYAN CLARK, 27; by the Mariners, Second Baseman TONY BERNAZARD, 27, to the Cleveland Indians for Outfielder GORMAN THOMAS, 33, and Second Baseman JACK PERCONTE, 29; by the Indians, Catcher JIM ESSIAN, 32, to the A's for a minor-leaguer; and by the San Francisco Giants, Outfielder CHAMP SUMMERS, 35, to the San Diego Padres for Second Baseman JOE PITTMAN, 29, and a minor-leaguer. In a three-way deal, the Padres sent Reliever GARY LUCAS, 29, to the Expos, who in turn dealt Pitcher SCOTT SANDERSON, 27, to the Chicago Cubs, who sent Pitcher CRAIG LEFFERTS, 26, and two minor-leaguers to the Padres.