Okay, take a look at that picture. That’s a picture of Utah Jazz great Karl Malone attempting to score against 2/3rds of the historically dominant Boston Celtics front court of Larry Bird, Kevin McHale (not shown), and Robert Parrish. That game was on November 18th, 1992 and the Utah Jazz pulled out an improbable 92-91 victory. It was the first time that Karl Malone had gone into Boston Gardens and left with a victory. He had been 0-7 there before this game. It was likely to be yet another Jazz loss and Celtics win, but Karl Malone and company held on despite a huge fourth quarter rally where the C’s would end up scoring more than 30% of all of their total points in those 12 minutes. This was prime Celtics, still a Championship contender handling things at home.
And historically the Celtics had taken care of the New Orleans / Utah Jazz at home quite a bit. Before this November victory by the Jazz in 1992 the franchise had gone 1-22 in Boston. Seriously. There was only one Jazz win in Boston before Karl Malone broke through in ‘92, and that was in 1976. And while there’s no box score data for that game, the 117-99 victory there leads me to believe that some of the Celtics were hurt and/or resting for that one.
AFTER the Jazz won this game (Karl Malone 29 points, John Stockton 14 assists, David Benoit 0/1 from deep), they seemed to break the seal on the Celtics, and would end up winning in Boston for seven straight meetings (November ‘92, December ‘93, January ‘95, November ‘95, March ‘97, March ‘98, December ‘99). Utah wouldn’t win again in Boston until Jerry Sloan was forced to start Carlos Arroyo, DeShawn Stevenson, Matt Harpring, Andrei Kirilenko, and Ostertag. (99-96 Victory)
Since that time the Jazz have won in Boston only twice, and that streak is 2-10, including seven straight losses in a row in Beantown. Overall this is what 11-35 looks like:
And here’s the +/- for those games:
Karl Malone had to go through seven straight losses before getting that W. Could history repeat itself tonight? For Gordon Hayward and company, I think it could happen!