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Greatest Basketball Games: Game 6 of the 1997 Nba Western Conference Finals

Ara is a journalism graduate from California State University, Northridge, who is always looking to explore his writing opportunities.

Why Is Game 6 of the 1997 Western Conference Finals So Great?

There are basketball games in the history of the NBA that stand out as very memorable, so memorable that they deserve recognition and analysis. Another such example is Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Western Conference Finals between the Utah Jazz and the Houston Rockets. This game ended up being one of the greatest games in the history of basketball mainly because of a last second shot that has stood the test of time and is recognized as being one of the greatest buzzer beaters in NBA history.

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The Houston Rockets Really Gave the Utah Jazz Competition in Game 6 of This Series

As the game proved, the Rockets would not go down without a fight. Clyde Drexler who scored 10 points in the first quarter made a big three-pointer early in the 2nd quarter which electrified the crowd. Eddie Johnson, the 38 year-old forward who told NBC’s Jim Gray after Game 4 that he was getting his confidence back made a three pointer in the 4th quarter which gave Houston a 90-77 lead. I would point out that this Rockets team had a super team of sorts with Clyde Drexler, Charles Barkley and Hakeem Olajuwon, three of the 50 greatest players to ever play in the NBA. In spite of this level of talent, the Houston Rockets could not stop John Stockton who would have a very memorable 4th quarter in his playoff career.

The Utah Jazz Got Back Into the Game With Better Defense and a Contribution from Greg Ostertag

But slowly, the Jazz got back into the game because they picked up their defensive intensity and the Rockets according to commentator Steve ‘Snapper” Jones had a little bit of a letdown. John Stockton finished the game with 25 points, his last three coming at the buzzer to eliminate the Houston Rockets. In addition, the Utah Jazz received a much needed contribution from their center Greg Ostertag who scored 12 points in the first half even though he was only averaging 4 points per game in the playoffs.

The Events That Led to the Game Winning Shot by John Stockton

Bill Walton's words would become very prophetic as a three pointer by Mario Elie missed the mark. However, he had said earlier in the late stages of the 3rd quarter that Houston was in control as Clyde Drexler was having quite a productive night on the offensive end and former Los Angeles Lakers guard Sedale Threatt seemed to be doing everything. Or so it seemed but that was not meant to be.

Bryon Russell followed up with a three pointer of his own. The Rockets’ next possession saw Clyde Drexler lose the ball coming across the lane. John Stockton would score on consecutive possessions to tie the game at 98. After two free throws by Charles Barkley to give the Rockets a slim two point edge, 35 year-old Stockton cruised to the basket, taking advantage of the Rockets slower, aging front line. When Bryon Russell threw the ball in bounds, the catch for Stockton was far too easy. The Rockets had a huge defensive breakdown as Barkley was forced to come out and try to defend it but John was too good that day.

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Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Western Conference Finals Karl Malone Highlights

Final Thoughts About Game 6 of the 1997 NBA Western Conference Finals

Game 6 of that Western Conference Finals was a contest between two very good teams but ultimately, the Utah Jazz finally reached that next level after being beaten by the Seattle Sonics (now the Oklahoma City Thunder) the previous season. But this game was memorable also because you had several players playing in it that would reach the Hall of Fame, one of them being Charles Barkley who had reached the NBA Finals in 1993 but did not win. Clyde Drexler who had 33 points in this game was one of the best players not just in this game but in the history of the NBA.

A Memorable Quote From Commentator Steve "Snapper" Jones

"We have never seen this kind of emotion from Stockton and Malone and finally, their day has come, but the catch was too easy and Stockton who had been the hot hand in the quarter, finishes up the game, 15 in the quarter with that three."

© 2019 Ara Vahanian

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