PRO BASKETBALL—The highlight of Atlanta's perfect 4-for-4 week came against Chicago on Wednesday in a matchup between the Hawks' Dominique Wilkins, last year's NBA scoring leader, and Chicago's Michael Jordan, this year's Raging Bull. The Bull did his usual charging, netting 41 (he did it again two nights later in a 106-93 win over the Bucks, his ninth straight 40-point game), but the Hawk soared, matching a career-high 57-point performance in Atlanta's 123-95 victory. Three nights later in a 122-110 win over the Knicks, Dominique's kid brother, Gerald, reached some heights of his own, scoring 30 and contributing 12 assists for New York—both career highs, as was a 43-point performance by New York's Patrick Ewing. The Hawks have the best record in the league (18-4) and a modest nine-game win streak at home. A not-so-modest win streak at home (48) was broken this week on Boston's parquet when the Lakers beat the Celtics 117-110 (page 28). The Lakers stayed on top of the Pacific, winning two of four, and the Celts also remained in first in the East, winning three of four. The 76ers beat the Pacers 122-112, but then dropped games to the last-place Nets 123-90 and the Cavaliers 123-120, who were last in the Central. In that loss to the Cavs, Philadelphia's Charles Barkley scored a career-high 41 points. In the Midwest, the Jazz overtook the Mavericks, going 3 for 3 en route to a six-game unbeaten streak.
BOXING—JAMES (Bonecrusher) SMITH stopped Tim Witherspoon in the first round to win the WBA heavyweight title at Madison Square Garden (page 148). On the undercard, JULIO CESAR CHAVEZ retained his WBC junior lightweight crown with a 12-round unanimous decision over Juan LaPorte.
PRO FOOTBALL—The annual late-December playoff scenario became slightly clearer. The Broncos, who had clinched the AFC West title last Monday when the Raiders lost to the Seahawks, edged the Redskins 31-30. Denver was led by RB Sammy Winder, who scored two TDs. The Skins still have a wildcard berth, while the Giants clinched their first NFC East title in 23 years. On Sunday, New York moved within a victory of getting the home-field advantage by beating the Cardinals 27-7 behind Joe Morris's three TDs and a club-record nine sacks by the defense. The Bears, who faced Detroit on Monday night, were also just playing for the home-field advantage. Cleveland and Cincinnati squared off for bragging rights to Ohio's turf, the Browns trampling the Bengals 34-3 to win their second straight AFC Central title (page 32). Cincinnati is still alive in the wild-card chase. Also in contention for wild-card berths were the Chiefs, who edged the Raiders 20-17. The Raiders still have a slim chance for a berth, as do the Seahawks, who downed the Chargers 34-24 on Dave Krieg's four TD passes. The Dolphins' playoff hopes were kept aglow when Dan Marino threw for five TDs in a 37-31 OT decision over the Rams. The Rams won at least a wildcard spot, however, when the Vikings were knocked out of contention by the Oilers 23-10. The Rams will next face the 49ers, who earned a berth by beating the Patriots 29-24, for the NFC West title. The Jets, who nosedived to the Steelers 45-24, also backed into a wild-card berth when the Raiders lost. Elsewhere, and out of the playoff picture, the Colts downed the Bills 24-14; the Saints beat Atlanta 14-9; the Packers stopped the Buccaneers 21-7; and the Cowboys ended a 20-year winning-season streak by falling to the Eagles 23-21.
HOCKEY—The Bruins and the Canadiens played leapfrog for the top spot in the Adams Division. On Monday, the Habs downed Calgary 5-3, sparked by the return of team captain Bob Gainey, who had been sidelined all season with a knee injury. On Thursday, Canadien veteran Larry Robinson got his 600th career assist and Ryan Walter his 500th career point in a 6-2 win over the Rangers. Montreal then lost a 4-2 decision to the Bruins, who extended their win streak to six. Also on a roll were the Patrick Division-leading Flyers, who beat the Canucks 6-3, Flames 5-3 and Jets 4-1. Philadelphia's only loss was to the North Stars; Dino Ciccarelli scored the game-winner in the 5-4 decision. Edmonton, which on Thursday traded eight-year veteran left wing Dave Semenko to the Whalers, went 4 for 4. The Oilers edged the North Stars 3-2, then took a home-and-home series from Winnipeg 7-4, 6-1 and beat the Kings 4-2. Though the Kings have never come close to the top of the tough Smythe Division, they have shown some promise, largely on the play of Luc Robitaille, who leads all rookies with 21 goals. And in New York, Islander veteran Mike Bossy scored his 556th career goal in a 4-2 win over the Devils, tying him for fifth place with Boston's John Bucyk on the alltime NHL goal-scoring list.
December 22, 1986
SAILING—America's Cup: The third round-robin challenger trials ended with New Zealand leading with 198 points, followed by Stars & Stripes with 154, USA with 139 and French Kiss with 129. In the defender series, Kookaburra III led, followed by Australia IV and Kookaburra II (page 34). The semifinals among the challengers will begin on Dec. 27; the defenders' semis start the next day.
MILEPOSTS—ARRESTED: Mets All-Star pitcher DWIGHT GOODEN, 22, on charges of assaulting police officers, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, after being stopped for possible traffic violations, in Tampa.
AWARDED: The 1986 Harlon Hill Trophy for the top NCAA Division II football player, to North Dakota State senior quarterback JEFF BEN-TRIM, who broke Walter Payton's Division II career-rushing touchdown mark with 64 and led the Bison to three national titles.
HONORED: As Harness Horse of the Year, by the U.S. Trotting Association, FORREST SKIPPER, a 4-year-old pacer who was 15 for 15 in 1986.
NAMED: As football coach of the University of Maryland, assistant coach JOE KRIVAK, 51. He succeeds Bobby Ross, who resigned Dec. 1.
As football coach at Purdue, FRED AKERS, 48, who, after 10 seasons, was fired Nov. 29 by Texas. He replaces Leon Burtnett, who resigned on Nov. 6.
As football coach at the University of Tulsa, Alabama assistant coach GEORGE HENSHAW, 38. He succeeds Don Morton, who resigned on Nov. 28.
TRADED: By the Los Angeles Dodgers, first baseman GREG BROCK, 29, to the Milwaukee Brewers for pitcher TIM LEARY, 27, and minor league pitcher TIM CREWS; by the Seattle Mariners, pitcher MATT YOUNG, 28, to L.A. for pitcher DENNIS POWELL, 23, and minor league infielder MIKE WATTERS; by the Mariners, rookie outfielder DANNY TARTABULL, 24, and minor league pitcher RICK LUEKEN, to the Kansas City Royals for pitcher SCOTT BANKHEAD, 23, outfielder MIKE KINGERY, 25, and minor league pitcher STEVE SHIELDS; by the New York Yankees, designated hitter MIKE EASLER, 36, and minor league infielder TOM BARRETT, to the Philadelphia Phillies for pitcher CHARLES HUDSON, 27, and minor league pitcher JEFF KNOX; by the San Diego Padres, outfielder KEVIN McREYNOLDS, 27, relief pitcher GENE WALTER, 26, and minor league infielder ADAM GING, to the New York Mets for infielder-out-fielder KEVIN MITCHELL, 24, outfielders STANLEY JEFFERSON, 24, and SHAWN ABNER, 20, and minor league pitchers KEVIN ARMSTRONG and KEVIN BROWN; by the Oakland A's, infielder DONNIE HILL, 26, to the Chicago White Sox for pitcher GENE NELSON, 26, and a player to be named later.