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The 10 greatest moments in Utah Jazz playoff history: No. 10-7

The 10 greatest moments in Utah Jazz playoff history: No. 10-7

(Jeffrey D. Allred/Deseret News/File)



Estimated read time: 5-6 minutes

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Editor's note: The following is one of a three-part series highlighting the 10 greatest moments in Utah Jazz history.SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz will have to wait at least one more year before making their long-awaited return to the NBA playoffs.

So while we wait, here is a ranking of the top 10 greatest playoff moments in Jazz history. We're going to start with No. 10-7, followed by No. 6-4 and finishing with No. 3-1.

Part one of the Jazz playoff memory tour begins below. Rankings are ordered in descending order, with the highest-rated moments coming last.

10. 1984 first round: Utah (45-37) vs. Denver (38-44)

Result: Utah wins series 3-2

The heroes: Adrian Dantley, Rickey Green, Darrell Griffith, John Drew, Thurl Bailey, Frank Layden

The villains: Woody Paige, Alex English, Dan Issel, Kiki Vandeweghe

Why important:

Four years removed from the franchise's relocation to Salt Lake City, the Jazz made their first-ever playoff appearance against the Denver Nuggets.

Utah's Adrian Dantley fueled an offense that averaged 122 ppg in the first round to win the five-game series, which also marked the first of 20 consecutive Jazz postseason appearances from 1984-2003.

Key moment:

After a 117-121 Game 3 loss placed Utah on the brink of elimination, sports columnist Woody Paige wrote in the Denver Post that "the Jazz have no heart. Stick a fork in them. They're done." Paige further quipped that Utah head coach Frank Layden "doesn't know a basketball from a beach ball."

But the Jazz proved to have more than just a faint pulse after a 129-124 Game 4 win shifted the series back to Salt Lake for a decisive Game 5.

Back at the Salt Palace, the trio of Dantley, Rickey Green and Darrell Griffith humiliated Denver's defense (and media) by scoring 83 combined points in a historic 127-111 triumph.

9. 1985 first round: Utah (41-41) vs. Houston (48-34)

Result: Utah wins series 3-2

The heroes: Adrian Dantley, Thurl Bailey, Darrell Griffith, Billy Paultz

The villains: Hakeem Olajuwon, Hakeem Olajuwon again, Ralph Sampson

Why important:

The underdog Jazz proved they could take Houston's best punch and still win Game 5 on the road. Also, without this game, KSL never would have created this priceless 1985 Jazz-Rockets montage set to Phil Collins' "Against all Odds."

Key moment:

Houston's Hakeem Olajuwon managed to swing the momentum Utah's way, both in the literal and figurative sense, when the rookie center slapped Jazz reserve Billy Paultz square across the face with 6:49 still left to go in Game 5.

Olajuwon's antics only succeeded in firing-up Paulitz and his teammates, and the Jazz went on to outscore the Rockets 23-14 the rest of the way for a 104-97 comeback win.

(Side note: I can only imagine the fallout that would ensue had this incident occurred today. Aside from being ejected, suspended, fined and forced to publicly apologize on Twitter, Olajuwon would become the hot topic of a Skip Bayless/Stephen A. Smith debate on "First Take" titled, "Hack--'em Olajuwon: Houston, do we have a maturity problem?").

8. 1999 first round: Utah (37-13) vs. Sacramento (27-23)

Result: Utah wins series 3-2

The heroes: John Stockton, Karl Malone, Shandon Anderson, Bryon Russell

The villains: Vlade Divac, Chris Webber, Vernon Maxwell, Jason Williams, Rick Adelman

Why important:

Seconds away from elimination, the Jazz fought back to overcome a 2-1 series deficit and avoid a devastating first-round upset. The series also set the stage for one of John Stockton's most iconic game-winning shots.

Key moment:

Up 89-88 in Game 4, Sacramento was only 7.2 seconds away from disposing of the Jazz for their first playoff series win since 1981. Utah only had time for one more play, and Sacramento's Vernon Maxwell and Vlade Divac were determined to deny league MVP Karl Malone the chance to take the final shot.

Racing to the top of the key, Stockton dribbles around a pick towards the Jazz bench. Both Maxwell and Divac stick on Malone, forcing the 37-year-old point guard to attempt the shot.

Stockton coolly responds by stopping just below the arc, squaring, and sinking a 22-foot game-winner with 0.7 seconds left to stun the raucous ARCO Arena crowd.

Sacramento still proved to be a tough out in the ensuing Game 5, battling back from 12 down in the second half to force overtime in the Delta Center. But Utah's Shandon Anderson came up big off the bench by outscoring the entire Kings roster in the extra period to win 99-92.

7. 2007 first round: Utah (51-31) vs. Houston (52-30)

The result: Utah wins series 4-3

The heroes: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer, Mehmet Okur, Matt Harpring, Andrei Kirilinko, Jerry Sloan

The villains: Tracy McGrady, Yao Ming, Shane Battier, Rick Adelman

Why important:

After six years of futility, the Jazz were once again back at winning playoff series.

More than anything, the Game 7 road win over the Rockets proved that the franchise was capable of achieving success beyond the Stockton and Malone era. It also preserved Tracey McGrady's "winless-in-the-first-round" label, gave legitimacy to the "Deron Williams or Chris Paul?" debate and led to a surprising Western Conference Finals run.

Key moment:

Decked-out in hideous powder-blue jerseys, the underdog Jazz had battled back from a five-point fourth quarter deficit to go up 96-95 with 1:40 remaining.

After an Okur three clangs off the iron, Carlos Boozer (6-foot-9) somehow outrebounds Yao (7-foot-6) and taps the ball back to Williams. D-Will then draws all five Houston defenders into the paint before firing a pass back to a wide-open Memo, who this time proves to be "MONEY!"


Alex Clark is a sports writing intern for KSL.com. He currently studies digital journalism at BYU. Email: alclark35@gmail.com Twitter: alclark35

Alex Clark

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