PRO BASKETBALL—With a 119-98 defeat of the Pistons, the Cavaliers overtook Detroit by percentage points for the Central Division lead and passed the Lakers for the best record in the league—15-5 at week's end. Cleveland's Mark Price scored 20 points in that victory and led with 23 in a 120-94 rout of the Hawks. The Lakers, tops in the Pacific Division, found the traveling tough along the Atlantic seaboard: They lost 118-113 in overtime to the Nets—New Jersey rookie forward Chris Morris scored 17 points, three of them on a 28-foot jumper with three seconds left in regulation that forced the OT—and then saw a second-half rally fizzle in a 110-96 loss to the Celtics. The Mavericks took a share, with the Nuggets, of the Midwest Division lead by beating the Warriors, the Hornets and the Heat. As the Knicks stretched their Atlantic Division lead to 2½ games, Gerald Wilkins provided the highlight: a 10-foot jumper with 24 seconds left that gave New York a 117-116 win over the Jazz. Utah also lost 119-107 to the 76ers despite 44 points from Karl Malone.
PRO FOOTBALL—In the week of jockeying for wildcard playoff berths, seeming winners became losers in a matter of minutes. The Colts, who beat the AFC East champion Bills 17-14, could savor their victory only briefly, or as long as it took the Browns to rally to beat the Oilers 28-23. That Cleveland win eliminated both Indianapolis and the Patriots, who were 21-10 losers to the Broncos, and sealed the Browns' status as hosts to the Oilers in the AFC wild-card game. Because of a sprained knee Bernie Kosar suffered in the Dolphins' Monday-night 38-31 defeat of the Browns, 38-year-old Don Strock started for Cleveland against Houston and passed for 326 yards and two touchdowns to lead the Browns back from a 23-7 third-quarter deficit. Dolphin quarterback Dan Marino, who threw for 404 yards and four TDs against Cleveland on Monday, had a tougher time in a 40-24 loss to the Steelers. The Pittsburgh defense held him to 195 yards and no touchdowns. Similarly satisfying for the eliminated Jets was a 27-21 victory over the Giants on Ken O'Brien's five-yard TD pass to Al Toon with 37 seconds to play. The Jets' win gave the KFC East title to the Eagles, 23-7 victors over the Cowboys. When the Rams beat the NFC West champion 49ers with surprising ease, 38-16, the Giants' wild-card possibilities slipped away. The Vikings, owners of a wild-card berth, were to face the NFC Central title-winners, the Bears, in Monday night's game. Victory was fleeting for the Saints, who beat the Falcons 10-9 only to be eliminated from playoff contention by the Eagles' victory. Jim Breech of the Bengals kicked a 20-yard field goal in overtime for a 20-17 win over the Redskins that gave Cincinnati its first AFC Central title in seven years. The Seahawks won their first AFC West title with a 43-37 victory over the Raiders in which Seattle quarterback Dave Krieg passed for 410 yards and four touchdowns. The Chargers beat the Chiefs 24-13, and the Buccaneers beat the Lions 21-10.
HOCKEY—Immediately after the Nordiques' 6-4 upset of the Adams Division-leading Canadiens, Quebec coach Ron Lapointe, 39, resigned, citing the discovery of a kidney tumor. He was replaced by former Canadiens coach Jean Perron, 42, who had been serving as the Nordiques' assistant general manager. Perron guided Quebec to a 2-2 tie and a 4-2 win over the second-place Bruins in his first two games at the helm. The Penguins took sole possession of first place in the Patrick Division, four points ahead of the runner-up Rangers, Flyers and Capitals by defeating the Kings 5-4, the Islanders 8-2 and the Norris Division-pacesetting Red Wings 3-2. The loss to Pittsburgh was the Islanders' last in a string of 12 straight defeats, which tied a club record. The Flames upped their Smythe Division lead to eight points over the second-place Kings and to 10 ahead of the Oilers (page 130).
INDOOR SOCCER—A triple-overtime 6-5 victory by Dallas over Tacoma took 99 minutes, but the extra effort was worth it for the Sidekicks, who moved to within a game of first-place Baltimore. But their slay in that heady precinct was short-lived: The next night Tacoma forwards Peter Ward and Preki each had a hat trick in a 7-3 Stars win over Dallas, and Baltimore beat Los Angeles 5-2. At week's end, the Blast's lead was again two games.
December 26, 1988
MILEPOSTS—NAMED: As football coach at Missouri, BOB STULL, 43, who had been coaching at Texas-El Paso.
PLACED ON PROBATION: For three years and banned from bowl appearances in the 1989 and '90 seasons and from television appearances for one year by the NCAA, the Houston and Oklahoma football programs for illegal payments made to athletes and for recruiting violations committed from 1978 through '86 and '81 through '86, respectively. The NCAA also assessed a number of lesser penalties against the two schools.
RESIGNED: As football coach (effective Jan. 2) and athletic director (when a successor is found) at Georgia, VINCE DOOLEY, 56, whose Bulldogs will face Michigan State in the Gator Bowl on Jan. 1. His 200-77-10 career record, since 1964, is second in Southeastern Conference history to Bear Bryant's 323-85-17 (page 24).
As Texas A & M football coach and athletic director, JACKIE SHERRILL, 45, less than a month after being accused of paying "hush money" to a former player. Sherrill guided the Aggies to a 52-28-1 record during his seven seasons (page 24).
SENTENCED: By a U.S. District Court judge in Tampa to five years' probation, two-time American League Cy Young Award winner DENNY McLAIN, 44, for racketeering and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute. McLain, who went 31-6 for the Detroit Tigers in 1968, served 29 months of a 23-year sentence before being released from prison in September 1987 because of a mistrial. He subsequently agreed to plead guilty in order to avoid a new trial.
By a U.S. District Court judge in San Diego, former British Olympic sprinter DAVID JENKINS, 36, to seven years in federal prison and a fine of $75,000 for his role in an international steroid-smuggling ring. Jenkins was convicted of conspiracy to defraud the U.S. government based on smuggling and distribution of counterfeit anabolic steroids.
SUSPENDED: Indefinitely by TAC, for competing in a series of track and field meets in South Africa in October, javelin thrower TOM PETRANOFF, hurdler MILAN STEWART, middle-distance runner KEITH THIBODEAUX, long jumper KEVIN ATKINS, shot-putter DAVE LAUT and sprinters CEDRIC GILDER and JAMES ANDREWS. Their participation was a breach of the International Amateur Athletic Federation's policy that bars competing in South Africa because of that country's apartheid policy.
TRADED: By the Phoenix Suns, guard CRAIG HODGES, 28, to the Chicago Bulls for forward ED NEALY, 28, and a 1989 second-round draft pick.
By the Boston Red Sox, first baseman TODD BENZINGER, 25; pitcher JEFF SELLERS, 24; and a player to be named, to the Cincinnati Reds for first baseman NICK ESASKY, 28, and pitcher ROB MURPHY, 28. By the Philadelphia Phillies, outfielder MILT THOMPSON, 29, to the St. Louis Cardinals for catcher STEVE LAKE, 31, and outfielder CURT FORD, 28.