On this day 32 years ago, John Stockton slashed through the Los Angeles Lakers, amassing 20 assists in Game 7 of the 1988 NBA Western Conference Semifinals.
Unfortunately for Stockton and the Jazz, it wasn’t enough for Utah to topple LA, falling 109-98 and dropping the series in the process, 4-3. But for the point guard, it was yet another incredible performance that helped formulate his standing in basketball history.
The guard also scored 29 points that night on 10-of-15 shooting, not to mention five steals on the other end of the floor. But three Lakers – Magic Johnson, James Worthy and Byron Scott – all scored more than 20 each, and the 50-combined points from Stockton and Karl Malone couldn’t do enough to overcome.
The performance from Stockton came just days after he set an assists record for the NBA Playoffs with 24 in Game 5, which Utah also lost, 111-109. That effort tied the mark Magic Johnson set in Game 2 of the 1984 Western Conference Finals against the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers would go on to win the championship that year, knocking the Dallas Mavericks in seven games in the Western Conference Finals, then again needing seven games to handle the Detroit Pistons in the Finals.
The Spin on John Stockton
John Stockton played in the NBA for 19 years from 1984 to 2003, all with Utah. He finished his career with averaging 13.1 points, 10.5 assists, 2.7 rebounds and 2.2 steals per game an played in 82 games in 16 of his seasons, and one of those was shortened via lockout. He played in 10 NBA All-Star Games, led the league in assists per contest every season from 1987-88 through 1995-96, was the NBA steals champion twice, was named to the leagues All-Defensive Team five times and was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2009.