BASKETBALL—The Spurs and the Jazz fought a running battle for the top spot in the Midwest Division. With a 95-86 win over the Pistons early in the week. San Antonio remained tied with Utah, which outgunned the Warriors 135-117. Jeff Malone scored 43 points and Karl Malone chipped in with 35 against Golden State, and the hot-handed Jazz shot 80% from the field in the second period. The Spurs then took a hall-game lead over the Jazz as David Robinson had 24 points and 17 rebounds in a 92-81 thrashing of the Hornets. The teams were tied again when Utah overpowered the Nuggets 141-126. The Malones came through once more, with Karl and Jeff scoring 39 and 29 points, respectively. San Antonio regained the top spot with a 116-106 overtime defeat of the Cavaliers. Willie Anderson's 12-foot jumper tied the score at 101-101 in the final minute of regulation, and he contributed five points to a 10-0 run at the start of OT that clinched the victory for the Spurs. Even though four of its players were out with injuries, San Antonio came out ahead 90-74 in Minnesota to increase its lead to 1½ games over the Jazz, which fell to the Pacers 124-116. Robinson had 26 points and 17 rebounds against the Timber-wolves. The Trail Blazers kept a firm grip on the Pacific Division lead by hammering Indiana 122-96. Kevin Duckworth led Portland with 21 points and Clyde Drexler added 20, 11 in the third quarter, when the Blazers iced the win. Portland was uncharacteristically sluggish against the Kings, who went into the game with a 3-15 record but overcame a 19-point deficit to triumph 100-88. It was the Blazers' first road loss of the season. Portland was almost embarrassed again, this time by the mediocre Mavericks, but pulled out a 106-104 win as Drexler scored 29 points. The aforementioned defeat by the Spurs sent the Pistons out of the Central Division lead and to their first home loss this season. Moving up were the Bucks, who knocked off the Bulls 99-87 thanks to a 24-10 tear in the third quarter. Milwaukee then ran its home record to 12-0 by holding off the Clippers 98-92. Frank Brickowski scored 25 points to help put the win away for the Bucks. The Celtics stayed comfortably atop the Atlantic Division, in part because of two strong showings by Larry Bird. He had 21 points and seven assists in a 107-95 grounding of the Rockets and then had 30 points, including 4 for 4 from three-point range, in a 129-111 thrashing of the Bucks.
PRO FOOTBALL—Defense was the name of the game as the Dolphins, only one game behind the front-running Bills in the AFC East, defeated the Seahawks 24-17. Miami defensive backs John Offerdahl and Tim McKyer intercepted Seattle's David Krieg on successive fourth-quarter possessions to help seal the victory. The Colts rallied from a 14-3 deficit to overcome the Jets 29-21 as Jeff George threw for 212 yards and Erie Dickerson ran for 117. The Redskins secured a playoff berth, by crushing the 1-13 Patriots 25-10. The Steelers, co-leaders with the Oilers in the AFC Central, beat the Saints 9-6 on the strength of Gary Anderson's foot. Two of his three field goals came in the fourth quarter, including a 43-yarder with 1:44 left that clinched the win. The Bengals fell a game out of the division lead by losing 24-7 to the AFC West-leading Raiders. Los Angeles's Jay Schroeder passed for three touchdowns, just as he had on Monday night, when the Raiders rebounded from a 10-point deficit to defeat the Lions 38-31, In a battle of last-place teams, the Browns' fired-up defense got eight sacks as Cleveland ended an eight-game losing streak by knocking off the Falcons 13-10. John Elway threw two TD passes to Michael Young, and the Broncos broke their six-game losing streak with a 20-10 victory' over the Chargers. The Eagles made sure of a playoff berth as Keith Byars caught one touchdown pass and threw another in a 31-0 bashing of the Packers. The Cowboys manhandled the Cardinals' defense as they rolled to their fourth win in a row, 41-10, and evened their record at 7-7. The lowly Lions humbled the NFC Central-leading Bears 38-21, Rodney Peete passing for four TDs. The Buccaneers intercepted five Viking passes and recovered three Minnesota fumbles en route to a 26-13 triumph. Both the NFC West-leading Niners and the Rams were idle. In other games: The Oilers took apart the Chiefs 27-10, and the "Bills held off the Giants, tops in the NFC East, 17-13 (page 16).
GOLF—MIKE HILL birdied the first hole of a sudden-death playoff to beat Dale Douglass and Lee Trevino in the last Senior tour event of the year, in Dorado, Puerto Rico. The three were tied at 15-under-par 201 at the end of regulation play. Hill earned $150,000 for the victory. Trevino's finish was worth $95,000, which brought him up to $1,190,518 for 1990. That made him the first Senior tour money-winning leader to outearn the regular tour's money-winning champion, in this case, Greg Norman. Norman collected $1,165,477.
December 24, 1990
HOCKEY—The Adams Division-leading Bruins made winning look easy in a 5-1 trouncing of the Whalers as Cam Neely, who had two goals, got the scoring going only 25 seconds into the game. In a brawling rematch the next night—20 penalty minutes for fighting were assessed—Boston routed Hartford 8-2 as eight Bruins scored. Ray Bourque and Craig Janney each had four assists. The Blackhawks, who are atop the Norris Division, scored three goals in 4½ minutes in a 4-1 pummeling of the Penguins. In Chicago's next outing, goalie Ed Belfour became the NHL's first 20-game winner as the Blackhawks, after a slow start, beat the Jets 5-4. Chicago was unable to duplicate that recovery against the North Stars, who outshot the Blackhawks 41-22 and kept them scoreless until 18:05 of the third period of a 5-1 win. Unlike Chicago, the Flames, leaders in the Smythe Division, did not get burned by Minnesota; they held off the North Stars 5-4 as Al MacInnis, the NHL's top-scoring defenseman. extended his scoring streak to seven games with a goal and two assists. MacInnis's string ended, but that's about all that went wrong for Calgary in a 4-1 victory over the Kings, who are second in the Smythe. That win and a 3-2 victory over the Oilers ran the Flames' undefeated road streak to nine, the longest in the NHL this season. The Kings broke their fall with an 8-3 romp past the Oilers in which Wayne Gretzky got a goal and four assists. Earlier the Rangers, who struggled to stay in front of the second-place Flyers in the Patrick Division, had jumped ahead of Los Angeles 6-0 en route to a 6-4 win. Then Brian Leetch had a goal and two assists as New York, which saw a 2-1 third-period lead over the Canucks turn into a 3-2 deficit, rallied for a 5-3 victory.
SKIING—In World Cup competition: ALBERTO TOMBA of Italy won both a slalom in Sestriere, Italy, and a giant slalom in Alta Badia, Italy: in two downhills in Santa Cristina, Italy, FRANZ HEINZER of Switzerland won the first and ATLE SKAARDAL of Norway took the second; and CHANTAL BOURNISSEN of Switzerland was victorious in a women's Super G in Meiringen, Switzerland.
VOLLEYBALL—UCLA defeated Pacific 15-9, 15-12, 15-7 to win the NCAA women's title, in College Park, Md. (page 79).
MILEPOSTS—NAMED: As head football coach at SMU, TOM ROSSLEY, 44, an assistant with the Atlanta Falcons.
SENTENCED: By a Houston judge. Los Angeles Laker forward JAMES WORTHY, 29, to one year of probation, a $1,000 fine and 40 hours of community service for solicitation of prostitution.
SUSPENDED: By the NHL, Boston Bruin coach MIKE MILBURY and right wing LYNDON BYERS for five and 10 games, respectively, for leaving the bench to join an altercation in a game against the Hartford Whalers on Dec. 13,
DIED: ALICE MARBLE, 77, who won the U.S. women's singles tennis championship in 1936, '38, '39, and '40 and the Wimbledon title in '39; of an undetermined cause; in Palm Springs, Calif.