In 1988 the Los Angeles Lakers were looking to get back to the NBA Finals and defend their championship. L.A. dominated the Western Conference during the decade, but around this time there were a number of young teams looking to knock the Lakers off that throne.
One such team was the Utah Jazz, led by the young duo of Karl Malone and John Stockton. The Lakers on the other hand, were led by their veteran trio of Magic Johnson, James Worthy, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
But they had also begun incorporating young players like Byron Scott and A.C. Green. This made for an intense series when the two met in the second round of the playoffs.
The Jazz went ahead 2-1 after stealing Game 2 in Los Angeles and holding court in Game 3. The Lakers would regain homecourt in Game 4 and the series lead in Game 5, but the Jazz dominated Game 6 to set up the deciding game at the Great Western Forum.
On May 21, 1988, the Lakers showed the Jazz that they just weren’t quite ready to take that next step as Magic and Scott led L.A. to a 109-98 win.
It was Scott who led the Lakers scoring-wise, with 29 points, five rebounds, and three steals. Magic would finish with 23 points and 16 assists while Worthy also scored 23 points as the Lakers held off the scrappy young Jazz.
Utah went down swinging as Malone finished with 31 points and 15 rebounds while Stockton had 29 points and 20 assists. In the end it just wasn’t enough.
This was the first of three straight Game 7s for the Lakers as the run to their final NBA Championship of the decade was a long one. But in the end, L.A. came out on top on this night, despite the best efforts of the Jazz, and that theme would continue through the rest of the playoffs.