On May 29th in 1997, John Stockton nailed a game-winning 3-pointer at the buzzer over the outstretched arm of Charles Barkley in Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals.
Coming out of a timeout, with the game tied at 100 and 2.8 seconds left, Bryon Russell inbounded the ball to Stockton, who takes one dribble and knocks down the series-clinching three.
The shot gave the Utah Jazz a 103-100 road victory and led the franchise to their first-ever NBA Finals.
Stockton finished the game with 25 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter where the Jazz battled back from a 13-point deficit. He also dished out 13 of the team's 22 assists for the game.
Karl Malone was the other major contributor for the Jazz, finishing with 24 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three steals, and two blocks as all five starters for the team finished in double figures.
Meanwhile, for the Rockets, Clyde Drexler led the way in scoring with his 33 points while Hakeem Olajuwon stuffed the stat sheet with his 16 points, 11 rebounds, six assists, six blocks, and two steals.
On the back of Stockton's shot, the Jazz advanced to the Finals in their 14th consecutive postseason appearance. In fact, prior to 1997, the Jazz had been eliminated in the Conference Finals thrice in the previous five seasons (1992, 1994, 1996).
Although the Jazz progressed to the NBA Finals and lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games, the 1996-97 campaign was by far their best season in franchise history, even to date.
From 1984 to 2003, the Jazz made it to 20 consecutive playoffs - the second-best such streak in the NBA history - and their regular-season record in 1996-97 of 64-18 is a franchise-best.
That season, Karl Malone became the first MVP in franchise history.
May 19, 1997: On this night 23 years ago #NBA commissioner David Stern gave Karl Malone the 1997 MVP Trophy in front of @utahjazz fans. Karl beat Michael Jordan by just 29 points in the voting to earn his first MVP award. #KSLSportsArchive #takenote @mamail pic.twitter.com/6XSBlXrgJG- Jeremiah Jensen (@JJSportsBeat) May 20, 2020
Other notable events on May 29th
- In 1995, Rik Smith nails a foul-line jumper at the buzzer to give the Indiana Pacers a 94-93 Game 4 win in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Orlando Magic. Prior to the game-winning shot, the lead had changed thrice in the final 13.3 seconds of the game on the back of 3-pointers by Indiana's Reggie Miller and Orlando's Brian Shaw and Anfernee Hardaway.
- In 2003, Steve Kerr catches fire in Game 6 of the San Antonio Spurs' Conference Finals series against the Dallas Mavericks. After only playing a combined 2:09 minutes across two games in the series, he scores 12 points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting from 3-point distance and dishes out three assists in 13 minutes to spark the Spurs to a 90-78 victory. The win booked their ticket to their second-ever NBA Finals and the first since they won the championship in 1999. Over the final 15 minutes of the game, the Spurs went on a game-clinching 42-15 run.
Notable playoff eliminations on May 29th
Kobe dropped 37 PTS to send LA to the 2010 NBA Finals 🔥- NBA TV (@NBATV) April 12, 2020
Lakers vs. Suns, WCF Game 6 - 9:30pm ET on NBA TV! pic.twitter.com/wLogOEgm71
- In 2010, the Los Angeles Lakers withstood a furious fourth-quarter rally by the Phoenix Suns to win Game 6 111-103 and advance to the NBA Finals. Thus, booking their third straight Finals appearance and the 31st in franchise history.
- In 2009, the Los Angeles Lakers blewout the Denver Nuggets 119-92 in Game 6 of their Conference Finals series to advance to the NBA Finals.
- In 2008, the Los Angeles Lakers eliminated the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals with a 100-92 Game 5 win. The win helped the Lakers advance to their 29th Finals in franchise history and the first since 2004.
- In 1992, the Chicago Bulls defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers 99-94 in Game 6 of the Conference Finals. Thus, booking their second consecutive Finals appearance.
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