1997–98 Utah Jazz season
The 1997–98 NBA season was the Jazz's 24th season in the National Basketball Association, and 19th season in Salt Lake City, Utah. The Jazz entered the season as runner-ups in the 1997 NBA Finals, where they lost to the Chicago Bulls in six games. Without John Stockton for the first 18 games due to a knee injury, the Jazz slowly got off to an 11–7 start to the season. However, Stockton would eventually return as the Jazz won 31 of their final 36 games after the All-Star break, and finished first place in the Midwest Division with a 62–20 record. The Jazz's top scorer Karl Malone, who averaged 27.0 points per game, was part of a Jazz offense that had two other players, Stockton and Jeff Hornacek, averaging double-digits in points. Malone was the only member of the team to play in the 1998 NBA All-Star Game.
In the first round of the playoffs, the Jazz trailed 2–1 to the 8th-seeded Houston Rockets. However, they won the series in five games. In the semifinals, they defeated the San Antonio Spurs in five games. After that, the Jazz swept the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference Finals in four straight games to advance to the NBA Finals for the second consecutive year, and once again, met the Chicago Bulls in a rematch of last year's NBA Finals, in which they lost to the Bulls in six games, just like last year's NBA Finals. Following the season, Antoine Carr signed as a free agent with the Houston Rockets, and Chris Morris signed with the Phoenix Suns.
The Jazz used two picks; a first round pick on point guard Jacque Vaughn and a second round pick on Nate Erdmann. Vaughn would play with the team for four seasons before going to the Atlanta Hawks and Erdmann was cut from the team right before regular season, therefore signing with Idaho Stampede in the CBA.
|1997–98 Utah Jazz roster|
Record vs. opponents
|1997-98 Game Log|
Total: 62-20 (Home: 36-5; Road: 26-15)
October: 0-1 (Home: 0-0; Road: 0-1)
November: 9-5 (Home: 6-2; Road: 3-3)
December: 10-5 (Home: 5-1; Road: 5-4)
January: 10-3 (Home: 8-1; Road: 2-2)
February: 9-2 (Home: 6-1; Road: 3-1)
March: 15-2 (Home: 5-0; Road: 10-2)
April: 9-2 (Home: 6-0; Away: 3-2)
Western Conference First Round
Western Conference Semifinals
Western Conference Finals
With home-court advantage, the Jazz were favored by many[who?] to end the Bulls' dynasty, as they took Game 1 at the Delta Center. However, the Bulls rallied to take Game 2 and jumped out to a 3–1 lead by taking the first two games in Chicago. Facing elimination, the Jazz edged the Bulls by two points to send the series back to Utah. In Game 6, the Jazz had a late lead, but Michael Jordan, playing in his final game with the Bulls, led the Bulls to an 87–86 win, hitting the game-winning shot with 5.2 seconds left.
Legend: OT denotes a game decided in overtime
Bulls win series 4–2
|GP||Games played||GS||Games started||MPG||Minutes per game|
|FG%||Field-goal percentage||3P%||3-point field-goal percentage||FT%||Free-throw percentage|
|RPG||Rebounds per game||APG||Assists per game||SPG||Steals per game|
|BPG||Blocks per game||PPG||Points per game|
Awards and records
- Karl Malone, All-NBA First Team
- Karl Malone, NBA All-Defensive First Team
- Karl Malone, NBA Leader, Free Throw Attempts (825)