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Why a bad Utah Jazz record became a talking point during Game 1 of the NBA Finals

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Jazz guard John Stockton (12) slices past Scottie Pippen (33) and the Bulls’ defense during the 1998 NBA Finals.

Jazz guard John Stockton (12) slices past Scottie Pippen (33) and the Bulls’ defense during the 1998 NBA Finals.

Associated Press

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Jazz last made the NBA Finals 22 years ago, but on Wednesday night, that 1998 series became a topic of discussion during Game 1 of the 2020 Finals between the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat.

It wasn’t a good reason for either the Jazz or the Heat.

As the Lakers built a lead of as many as 32 points on Wednesday, many on Twitter brought up the fact that Utah holds the unfortunate record of largest defeat in NBA Finals history, as it fell to the Bulls by 42 points in Game 3 of the 1998 Finals.

In that game, which Chicago won by a score of 96-54, the Jazz also set a Finals record for fewest points scored in a single contest. Despite scoring just 14 points in the first quarter, Utah trailed by just three at the end of it, but never got going offensively the whole game. The Jazz trailed by 18 at halftime and 27 after another 14-point output in the third quarter.

Utah “topped off” the misery by scoring just nine points in the fourth quarter.

On Wednesday, the Heat also trailed by just three after the first quarter but that number grew to 17 at halftime. After going down by as many as 32 in the third quarter, Miami rallied a bit and ultimately lost by 18, 116-98.