Blizzard 67-19 (2-4)

Sun Valley
Bobcats 53-29 (4-2)

Score (click for boxscore) Game MVP Hi Points Hi Rebounds Hi Assists
1. Blizzard 148, Bobcats 144 Clyde Drexler 33 Clyde Drexler 18 Karl Malone 20 Kevin Johnson
2. Bobcats 145, Blizzard 142 Kevin Johnson 31 Kevin Johnson 14 Karl Malone 25 Kevin Johnson
3. at Buffalo
4. at Buffalo
5. at Sun Valley
6. at Buffalo
7. at Sun Valley
series 1-1

Game 1 – In plenty of leagues, the Buffalo Blizzard (63-19 during the regular season) and the Sun Valley Bobcats (53-29) boast the records and hall of fame pedigree that would ensure these teams were ascending to their rightful place in the finals for a championship. Alas, in a cutthroat league where two better squads, the Costa Mesa Condors and two-time champion Fresno Stars combined for a 149-15 record that approached perfection (keep in mind a couple of those 15 losses were by virtue of them playing each other), the Blizzard and Bobcats were relegated to a West semifinals matchup – one where a great team will be bounced and fall short of the league’s final four. The Blizzard had entered this semifinal matchup already ringing up 67 wins following a four-game sweep of Washington to advance into this semi finals matchup with a Sun Valley squad earning a first-round bye. With the home court advantage, the Bobcats — despite a slightly inferior record — entered these West semis as the clear favorite, boasting an impressively versatile and balanced attack that dispatched Buffalo four out of six times during the regular season. In a close first half of Game 1 in the Sun Valley’s Den, the Bobcats continued to demonstrate an upper hand: save for a Buffalo Karl Malone basket five minutes into the game that gave the Blizzard its only first half lead, 23-22, Sun Valley led for the rest of these two quarters. The home team surged to grab a 42-35 lead after one and then extended the margin to nine a couple times early in the second quarter. But Buffalo was able to stay involved and close the deficit to 69-68 at intermission. In the third, Buffalo, led by 12 points and nine points respectively from Tom Chambers and Clyde Drexler respectively, nudged ahead. It outscored Sun Valley 39-33 to take a 107-102 lead entering the final period. An 8-0 spurt featuring baskets by Mark Aguirre, Lester Conner, Malone and Chambers extended Buffalo’s lead to 124-114 with 7:03 to play. Sun Valley battled back and with 1:20 left in regulation a Wayman Tisdale short jumper narrowed the Bobcats’ deficit down to 139-138. From there, Blizzard guard Sedale Threatt evaded full court pressure for a basket that put the Blizzard up again by three. That was followed by Conner blocking a Kevin Johnson shot that Malone grabbed and served to Drexler for a dunk that put the Blizzard ahead 143-138 with 58 seconds left in this final quarter. From there, Buffalo hit key free throws down the stretch and a dunk by Chambers with eight seconds left gave Buffalo an insurmountable 148-142 lead (A tip in by Tisdale at the buzzer closed the scoring of a game 1 that Buffalo managed to steal at the end, 148-144). Drexler was the game MVP with 33 points, eight rebounds, five assists and six steals. Chambers and Malone added 31 and 21 respectively as the Blizzard were simply thankful to ensure a split of these first two games played in the Valley of the Sun. In this high scoring affair Sun Valley was led by Worthy’s 31 and the Bobcats’ Mike McGee at starting guard made life difficult for the Blizzard with 30. They were both beneficiaries of Johnson’s 20 assists. Also, for Sun Valley, Adrian Branch exploded for 24 points off the bench in just 20 minutes. It came as no surprise that this contest between the two heavyweights was evenly played, with Buffalo narrowly outshooting its hosts .529 to .523 from the field, while the home team won the rebound battle 55-54. 

Game 2 – As the Blizzard and Bobcats prepared to tip off in the Den for Game 2 of their West Conference semifinal matchup, it was already obvious that these two 50-plus win teams are as evenly matched as you’ll find anywhere. Sun Valley won the regular season series 4-2, but in an offensive shootout, Buffalo was able to overcome a nine-point deficit on the road to defeat theBobcats in their building, 148-144 in Game 1. It was no surprise then when this second game of the series became hotly contested. As in Game 1, Sun Valley again exerted its will early and often in the first half and built a halftime lead, this time going into the locker room at intermission up 79-70. In fact, after Wayman Tisdale recorded the opening bucket eight seconds into the game, Sun Valley, grabbed the game’s first five points enroute to dominating the first quarter 39-22 (led by Tisdale’s nine points during that opening period) and Sun Valley led by a sizable martin the entire first half and never trailed. The Blizzard rallied hard in the third and a Kevin Duckworth basket with just under two minutes left in the period gave the visitors their first lead of the game 105-103; that, however, was answered by a furious 10-5 run in the waning moments of the frame that gave the Bobcats a 113-110 lead entering the final quarter. The Bobcats carried that momentum into the final period in outplaying the Blizzard early: following a Chris Morris jumper with 5:40 left in regulation, Sun Valley had built back a 133-123 lead. But Buffalo had one last push in it. The Blizzard engineered a furious 19-8 run capped by a Tom Chambers alley-oop dunk with 1:21 remaining that once again gave it a lead, 142-141, setting the stage for one more nail-biting finale in the desert. Kevin Johnson stepped up late for Sun Valley: his driving layup six seconds later put the hosts back up by one. Down the stretch, pressure defense by the Bobcats and a raucous Sun Valley crowd forced the Blizzard into three consecutive turnovers, the last one a KJ steal he converted into a perimeter basket with 13 seconds left for his second consecutive field goal and a Sun Valley three-point advantage. Buffalo still held the last possession and the ball landed in the hands of Mark Aguirre who had already accounted for three of the six three pointers made in the contest. With five seconds left, he was fed the ball by Lester Connor and Aguirre lofted an open shot from beyond the three-point stripe for the tie. With the Den crowd holding its collective breath, the shot rolled around the cylinder – and out of bounds. With two ticks left, Sun Valley center Larry Krystkowiak managed to dribble out the clock; the Bobcats had their first win of the series 145-142, sending things to Buffalo all knotted at one. Johnson was the game MVP with a hall-of-fame type 31 points, and a new VBA playoff record 25 assist performance, including the game-ending heroics. The Blizzard was also unable to contain James Worthy as he finished with 29 and Tisdale added 23. Buffalo was led by Chambers, who is accustomed to spectacular performances in this part of the country – he finished with 30 and converted his final five shots of the game to give the Blizzard a fighter’s chance. He was matched by Clyde Drexler’s 30 points. Sun Valley shot 58 percent from the field and bludgeoned Buffalo in the paint, outscoring the Blizzard 104-68 in the lane, in addition to outrebounding the visitors, 52-41. The Blizzard shot 54 percent from the field to stay afloat in the contest, and nearly steal its second straight contest at Sun Valley. The series shifts to Buffalo, no stranger to May snow, where the fans there can only hope Sun Valley’s offensive firepower cools down enough for Buffalo to reclaim the advantage in this barnburner of a series.

Game 3

Game 4

Game 5

Game 6

Game 7