All-time, the Jazz have the 5-2 edge in the playoffs against Houston. The first meeting was in 1985 when a rookie Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson were on a Rockets team on the rise that ended up losing in five games to Utah.
Nine years later, led by MVP Olajuwon, the Rockets defeated the Jazz in the Western Conference Finals to advance to the NBA Finals. A year later in round one, the Rockets bounced back to win the series 3-2. But from then on, every series (1997, 1998, 2007, 2008) against Utah has gone to the Jazz.
Of all the teams I hated growing up as a Rockets fan, the Jazz were by far the most hated. The usual John Stockton dishing the ball to Karl Malone was a big factor. But interestingly enough, those two were not the Jazz players I hated the most. That honor belonged to Jeff Hornacek because the guy simply couldn’t miss.
The Rockets are a franchise that doesn’t have any serious rivalries that are on the same level as the Lakers-Celtics or Pacers-Pistons, or Spurs-Mavericks even though the Rockets share the Texas rivalry.
But if there was one rivalry that Houston has that could reach that level, it’s with the Jazz. There have been some tense moments during the rivalry that will go down in lore.
These are just a few moments in one of the most underrated rivalries in the NBA.