PRO BASKETBALL—With a week to go in the NBA regular season, one playoff spot in each conference remained unclaimed. In the battle of the East, Cleveland had a 34-44 record, while Atlanta was 31-47; any combination of two Cavalier wins or Hawk losses will land the Cavs in the playoffs. Rookie-of-the-Year candidate Michael Jordan averaged 32.3 points, 5.5 rebounds and 5.3 assists as Chicago won three of four games and clinched its first playoff berth since 1981. Also landing playoff berths were Washington and New Jersey. With a 118-104 defeat of Denver that broke the Nuggets' 20-game home winning streak, the Pacific Division champion Lakers guaranteed themselves the best record in the Western Conference and the home-court advantage throughout the conference championship series. After the Midwest champion Nuggets beat San Antonio 118-109, Dan Issel's No. 44 jersey was retired. Issel, who is calling it quits as the NBA's fourth all-time leading scorer, said, "At the age of 36, I'm leaving basketball as an old man, but heck, next year I'll be 37, and I'll have half my life ahead of me." High-scoring Portland beat Houston 127-113 and Seattle 145-120 to clinch a playoff spot. Utah made it into the playoffs playing .487 for the season. The Phoenix Suns continue to shine over Seattle by three games in their fight for the final playoff berth.
BOWLING—MIKE AULBY defeated Amleto Monacelli 233-220 to win a $150,000 PBA event in Garden City, N.Y.
PRO FOOTBALL—New Jersey owner Donald Trump renewed his plea to fellow USFL owners to help pay for Doug Flutie's $8.25 million contract. Some of the owners just laughed. Houston's Jerry Argovitz said Trump "can ask for anything he wants to, but getting it is another story." Arizona Outlaws president Bill Tatham Jr. said, "We would love to have the rest of the owners pay for Doug Williams' contract." On the field, Flutie completed 6 of 13 passes for only 82 yards, but teammate Herschel Walker, the league's leading rusher, ran for a USFL single-game-record 233 yards as the Generals upset Houston 31-25. On Monday night the San Antonio Gunslingers, the USFL's worst-ranked offensive team, shocked the Portland Breakers 33-0, and the next Sunday they upset Eastern Conference leader Birmingham 15-14. Last Saturday Portland rebounded from the San Antonio setback with a 30-17 win over Oakland as quarterback Matt Robinson threw for three touchdowns.
GOLF—JOEY SINDELAR shot a three-under-par 285 to win the $400,000 Greater Greensboro Open. Isao Aoki and Craig Stadler tied for second a stroke back.
April 15, 1985
Alice Miller beat Jan Stephenson by three strokes to win the $400,000 Dinah Shore tournament in Rancho Mirage, Calif. Miller shot a 13-under-par 275.
PRO HOCKEY—"The first year we won the Stanley Cup we didn't have a great season," said Islanders coach Al Arbour. "I'm confident and optimistic going into the playoffs." The Islanders had their worst record since 1974 and they unwittingly helped the rival Rangers into the league's last playoff berth. When the Islanders beat the Penguins 4-3 and the Devils lost to St. Louis 8-4, both Pittsburgh and New Jersey were eliminated from the playoffs, allowing the Rangers to skate through the Patrick's backdoor. The tight Adams Division race among Montreal, Quebec and Buffalo was finally decided when Montreal's 4-4 tie with Boston mathematically clinched first place for the Canadiens. Edmonton, winner by 13 points in the Smythe, finished the season on an uncharacteristic low note, tying Calgary 5-5 and losing to Winnipeg 6-5. In an earlier 6-4 win in Los Angeles, Wayne Gretzky had a hat trick and took the league goal-scoring crown from teammate Jari Kurri. At season's end, Gretzky led all scorers (for the fifth straight year) with 73 goals and 135 assists. Also in the L.A.-Edmonton game, Marcel Dionne got his 874th assist, passing Phil Esposito to become No. 3 on the alltime list.
HORSE RACING—ETERNAL PRINCE ($38.80), Richard Migliore up, scored a five-length upset over Pancho Villa in the $201,400 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. The 3-year-old colt covered the mile course in 1:34[2/5].
INDOOR SOCCER—A wild-card playoff spot was up for grabs between Pittsburgh and Kansas City as the MISL headed into the final week of the regular season. In the East, Cleveland and St. Louis gained playoff berths alongside Chicago and division leader Baltimore. Minnesota also won a playoff spot by beating St. Louis 5-4 and Pittsburgh 7-4. In the West, Wichita joined Los Angeles, Las Vegas and division champ San Diego in the playoffs.
MOTOR SPORTS—ALAIN PROST of France, driving a McLaren-Porsche, finished 3.26 seconds ahead of Michele Alboreto of Italy, in a Ferrari, to win his third Brazilian Grand Prix, in Rio de Janeiro. He averaged 112.7 mph around the 3.1-mile course.
TENNIS—Jimmy Connors, suffering from a torn back muscle, defaulted the championship match of a $315,000 indoor event in Chicago to JOHN McENROE.
Ivan Lendl beat Mats Wilander 6-1, 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to win the $325,000 Monte Carlo Open.
MILEPOSTS—ADOPTED: By the NCAA, use of the 45-second shot clock for the 1985-86 basketball season. The clock was used by 19 conferences last season, but not in the NCAA tournament. The NCAA also ruled that two free throws and possession of the ball would be awarded on intentional fouls when field-goal attempts are unsuccessful.
ANNOUNCED: By Tulane president Eamon Kelly, acceptance of the resignation of basketball coach NED FOWLER and two assistant coaches. Kelly said he would recommend to the university's Board of Administrators that the school drop the sport. The developments occurred amid allegations of improper payments to players, including Green Wave star John (Hot Rod) Williams, a central figure in the school's point-shaving scandal (page 17).
EXPANDED: Baseball's league championship playoffs, from a best-of-five to a best-of-seven series. The new format, agreed upon by players and owner representatives only for this year, is expected to generate an additional $9 million in television revenue.
FIRED: As hockey coach at Minnesota, BRAD BUETOW, who had a 171-75-8 record in his six years on the job but failed to win the NCAA championship, a goal his predecessor, Herb Brooks, achieved three times in seven years.
HIRED: As basketball coach at Kentucky, EDDIE SUTTON, 49, formerly head coach at Arkansas. Sutton, who had a 260-75 record in his 11 years with the Razorbacks, succeeds Joe B. Hall as only the third coach at Kentucky in 55 years.
RULED: By the Southeastern Conference, that Florida will be allowed to retain its 1984 conference football title, despite widespread recruiting violations that resulted in a three-year NCAA probation.
TRADED: By the Philadelphia Phillies, shortstop IVAN DeJESUS, 32, and relief pitcher BILL CAMPBELL, 36, to the St. Louis Cardinals for pitcher DAVE RUCKER, 27.