Wednesday June 7th, 1995
The Rockets were supposed to play their season opener last night against the Jazz, but that pesky lockout canceled it and the rest of the November schedule. So lets continue our look back at the greatest ever Rockets games. Before we look at the #2 Houston Rockets game of all-time, let's back at the games selected so far.
10. T-Mac 13 In 35
9. Rockets Win 22 In A Row
8. Eddie Johnson's Buzzer Beater
7. Rockets Beat Kansas City For A Trip To Their 1st Finals
6. Mario Elie & The Kiss Of Death
5. Game 4 - 1995 NBA Finals
4. Game 6 - 1994 NBA Finals
3. Ralph Sampson's Buzzer Beater
2. 1995 NBA Finals Game 1
To put it simply, this game was awesome. Not just because they stole game one on the road to take away the home-court advantage, but when you think about it, this game perfectly reflects the Rockets entire season. The Rockets 94-95 season was filled with anticipation and hopes of defending their first title won the year before but after a 9-0 start to the season, the Rockets started to unravel and for the most part just treaded water the rest of the season to enter the playoffs as the 6th seed. Soon after the Rockets got hot and improbably, unexpectedly won 4 series on the road to successfully defend their NBA title. Along the way becoming the first team ever to win 4 series against 50+ win teams, and win 9 playoff road games.
Take a look at the similarities in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. The Rockets came into the series with a lot of hope and anticipation after surprisingly winning the Western Conference Title, they started off slow in Game 1 and trailed big, and then out of nowhere caught fire and won the game in improbable fashion.
Like the previous NBA Final, the attention and media spotlight was focused squarely on the two centers; Hakeem Olajuwon and Shaquille O'Neal. It was teacher vs. pupil, the present vs. the future, and the match-up didn't disappoint. On the season O'Neal averaged 29 pts, 11 rebounds, and 2 blocks per game, compared to 27 pts, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks from Olajuwon. During the series, Olajuwon dominated the younger center, outscoring him in every game and out rebounding O'Neal in games 3 and 4. It was obvious to every fan watching that someday O'Neal would become the league's top center, but not just yet.
With the home-court behind them in Game 1, the Magic got off to a great start and finished the first quarter up 30-19. Orlando would extend the lead early in the 2nd before the Rockets started to reel them back in and ultimately ending the first half still down 11. Just like they had done all season, just when everyone assumed the Rockets were dead, they outscored the Magic 37-19 in the 3rd quarter to not only close the gap but actually take the lead heading into the 4th quarter. The Rockets would give that lead back and trail by 3 going into their final possession thanks to Nick Anderson missing 4 consecutive free-throws. They had one last chance to tie the game, and the same man, Kenny Smith who had already hit six 3-pointers, hit a 7th with 1.6 seconds left to tie the game.
The Rockets would then head to OT, and score just enough to take the win. Marv Albert had the call, "Drexler puts the move on Anderson. Drexler with the finger-roll, the tip by Olajuwon! The Rockets lead, three-tenths of a second remaining."
Game over, somehow, someway, the Rockets had pulled off another miracle and won Game 1 in Orlando. The Rockets used that momentum in beating the Magic by 11 in Game 2 before finishing off the sweep in Houston. Nothing will ever top the first title, but the way they won the 2nd title will always make that season a very magical one. Check back next week for the Rockets #1 game...you were just given a clue as to which game it is.