by Nico Fiscella
During the 1988 playoffs, the three seed Utah Jazz began their postseason journey against the seven seed Portland Trail Blazers. Utah defeated Portland 111-96 to win the series 3-1. They advanced to the second round of the NBA Playoffs 33 years ago on this day.
Utah was led by the man who sits second all-time in points: Karl Malone. Otherwise known as the Mailman, Malone delivered 38 points and 10 rebounds to push Utah into the second round against the Lakers.
John Stockton also had a large impact in the game four victory. Stockton was one rebound away from a triple-double. He finished the night with 23 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds. Stockton and Malone both saw half of their shots hitting the bottom of the net.
Clyde Drexler (16), Terry Porter (17), and Jerome Kersey (13) all provided double-digit scoring for the Trail Blazers, but it was the imbalanced play of the bench that gave an edge to Utah.
The Jazz bench outscored Portland’s 28-13. Portland had six players come off the bench who combined for 65 minutes on the night collectively totaled 13 points. Meanwhile, Utah had Thurl Bailey produce 26 points off the bench.
For Portland, their starting five carried the load to keep them in the game. Kevin Duckworth led the team with 33 points and 10 rebounds in 33 minutes of action. He had the second-lowest minutes played out of the starting five. Taking 20 shots on the night, Duckworth connected on 14 of them which was good for a sizzling 70 percent night from the field.
Thurl Bailey played 44 minutes on the night, which sits third all-time for most minutes played off the bench in Utah history. Of the ten most minutes played off the bench for Utah in the playoffs, Bailey has nine of those games. Bryon Russell sits at the top with Bailey as both had been on the court for 45 minutes in one game despite coming off the bench.
According to StatHead, Thurl Bailey has the most playoff performances in which he played over 40 minutes off the bench. He sits at the top with ten games with such a feat. Dan Majerle, the runner-up, has only done this five times.
While Karl Malone and John Stockton are known for being terrorizing defenders, the Jazz also finished as the number one defensive team in this season. Utah had a 103.1 defensive net rating.
Heading into halftime, the Jazz found themselves down two points entering the locker room. With a 31-point third quarter, Utah flipped the script and was now one quarter away from moving on to play the Los Angeles Lakers in the second round.
The Jazz would then push through Portland to advance to the second round of the playoffs. After six games, Utah was sent home early by the Lakers. However, the semi-deep playoff run that Utah had should not go unnoticed.
With the end of this current season in less than two weeks, the Jazz could repeat their first-round success from 1988. The Jazz currently sit as the one seed. Portland is currently on pace for the play-in tournament at the seven seed. On the off chance Portland and Utah face off in the first round this year, hopefully, they can keep that same groove they had 33 years ago.
Featured image courtesy John McDonough, Getty Images