PRO BASKETBALL—NBA: The Boston Celtics, losers of only three games all season, ran their latest winning streak to eight as Center Dave Cowens again led the way with his scoring and rebounding. Cowens had 33 points and 17 rebounds in a 123-116 victory over Portland as teammates John Havlicek and Jo Jo White contributed 28 points apiece. The night before at Los Angeles, Cowens' play against Wilt Chamberlain was the difference as the Celtics defeated the Lakers 102-98. In that one, Cowens outscored Chamberlain 31-18 and held a rebounding edge of 19-14. The loss broke a six-game winning streak by Los Angeles, the Pacific Division leader by six games over Golden State. Boston's lead in the Atlantic Division was 2� games over New York, which extended its winning streak at home to 10 games by beating Chicago 97-83. The Knicks have won 18 of 19 at Madison Square Garden, but are just 7-7 on the road, having lost their last four. Philadelphia continued losing, this time to Buffalo 126-103 as Bob Kauffman tallied 12 of his game-high 32 points in the second quarter. Rookie Bob McAdoo added 29 and Elmore Smith had 25 to run the frontcourt total to 86 points. Baltimore increased its winning string to four and its Central Division lead to 1� games by beating Golden State 105-99. Elvin Hayes led scorers with 33 points. Second-place Atlanta defeated Cleveland 100-94 behind Lou Hudson's 26 points. Milwaukee remained on top in the Midwest by 1� games as the Bucks beat Cleveland 98-82. The Cavaliers are winless in 10 games against Milwaukee in their three-year existence.
ABA: Kentucky's streak was finally stopped at nine games by Dallas, 121-113, but the Colonels remained the hottest team in the league by topping Denver 117-110 for the 12th win in their last 14 games. Dan Issel scored 38 points, grabbed 14 rebounds and blocked four shots. Kentucky remained one game behind Carolina in the East Division. The Cougars, with Billy Cunningham scoring 25 points and Joe Caldwell 23, defeated San Diego 100-98. It was the 10th straight loss for the Conquistadors, the last-place team in the West. Julius Erving, the ABA's top scorer, netted 37 points as Virginia beat New York 124-107 to end a three-game losing streak. Last-place Memphis finally added Forward Wendell Ladner to its roster after a holdout of 32 games. Indiana, which had not lost to Memphis in 14 games, made its latest a 125-120 win.
BOWLING—MIKE McGRATH of El Cerrito, Calif. won four games in the final round to capture the $3,000 first prize in the $35,000 Winston-Salem Invitational at Honolulu. McGrath defeated Dick Ritger in the last game, 226-158.
PRO FOOTBALI—NFC: While SAN FRANCISCO (page 10) clinched the Western Division title and became the last team to make the playoffs—by heating Minnesota 20-17—both Washington and Dallas ended the regular season on a losing note. BUFFALO was a 24-17 victor over the Redskins and NEW YORK defeated the Cowboys, already the wild-card representative, 23-3. ST. LOUIS beat the Eagles 24-23 to make Philadelphia's record two wins and a tie in 14 games. GREEN BAY, the Central champ, topped New Orleans 30-20. DETROIT beat Los Angeles 34-17.
AFC: MIAMI beat Baltimore 16-0 to become the first NFL team to have a 14-game unbeaten season. PITTSBURGH, already in the playoffs, clinched the Central Division title by defeating San Diego 24-2. The West champ, OAKLAND, topped Chicago 28-21. CLEVELAND, already assured or the wild-card spot when the Raiders beat the Jets 24-16 in a Monday night game, beat New York 26-10 in the final game. Cornerback Lemar Parrish tied a league record by returning two interceptions for touchdowns as CINCINNATI defeated Houston 61-17. DENVER was a 45-21 winner over New England and KANSAS CITY beat Atlanta 17-14.
HOCKEY—NHL: Montreal, with Jacques Lemaire leading the way. increased its lead over Boston and New York in the East Division. The Canadiens defeated Los Angeles 3-1 as Yvan Cournoyer and Pete Mahovlich netted first-period goals. The night before Lemaire scored his 26th and 27th goals of the season in a 4-2 triumph at Vancouver. The Bruins and Rangers are in a deadlock for second place. In a head-on meeting, Boston scored a 4-2 victory by getting all its goals over a 5�-minute span of the second period after the Rangers had taken a 1-0 advantage. The Bruins peppered New York Goalie Gilles Villemure with 55 shots as Wayne Cashman scored twice. Buffalo extended its winning streak to six games with a 4-3 triumph at St. Louis on Gerry Meehan's goal. Vancouver lost Leftwinger Wayne Maki when he underwent a four-hour emergency operation for the removal of a brain tumor. Chicago, the West leader, received two goals apiece from J.P. Bordeleau and Jerry Korab in a 9-4 victory over California. Second-place Minnesota won its 10th straight game at home by defeating the Rangers 5-1. Murray Oliver scored twice in the second period for the North Stars.
WHA: In the highest-scoring game in the new league, East leader New England and Philadelphia engaged in a 10-6 beauty with the Whalers coming out on top as eight different players put the puck in the net. Brit Selby and John French led the assault with two goals each. Derek Sanderson of the Blazers sat out the game with a back injury amid reports that Philly would like to trade him—and his $2.6-million contract. Cleveland held a one-point edge over New York for second place in the division while Winnipeg retained the West lead by eight points over Minnesota. Bobby Sheehan of the Raiders had a hat trick in a 9-1 win over Quebec. Scoring leader Ron Ward of New York, J.C. Tremblay of Quebec, Goalie Gerry Cheevers of Cleveland and Bobby Hull of the Jets were named to play in the All-Star game in Quebec on Jan. 6 in the first returns of a players' vote.
HORSE RACING—On the final day of the Aqueduct season, PARAJE ($15.60), with Jorge Velasquez riding, won the $55,950 Display Handicap for the second straight year. Paraje was clocked in 3:56[2/5] for a 5�-length win over the 2�-miles.
SKIING—Hitting a speed of almost 67 miles per hour, ROLAND COLLOMBIN of Switzerland set a world record with a 2:05.67 clocking in the Alpine downhill at Val Gardena, Italy. He lowered the record of 2:06.06 set in 1970 by Bernhard Russi of Switzerland over the 3,750-meter course.
TENNIS—Russia's ALEX METREVELI won his third straight South Australian men's singles title by defeating Colin Dibley of Australia 7-5, 5-7, 6-7, 7-6, 6-2. Evonne Goolagong beat Kerry Harris 6-1, 6-2 for the women's crown. Metreveli, the lop-ranked Soviet player, joined the World Championship Tennis organization but will retain his amateur status by receiving an allowance and travel expenses from the Soviet Tennis Federation.