Blastoff: Great Games in Houston Rockets History

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As we all know by now all of the major sports in the United States has been suspended or canceled for the foreseeable future. Their is no basketball for at least a month. It is a good time to go back into the vault and relive some of the greatest Houston Rockets basketball games in the franchise history.

The Houston Rockets have a long history of great performances and great playoff games. From buzzer-beaters to great defensive plays the Rockets have given us many wonderful moments. For the next several weeks I will be recapping some of those moments and games. First game 1986 game 5 NBA Western Confernce Finals

The Rockets road to Western Confernce Finals

Houston Rockets

The Rockets finish the regular season at 51-31 first in the Midwest division. During the season the Rockets were led by the “Twin Towers of Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon. They swept the Kings in the first round 3-0. Finished off Alex English and the Nuggets in a double-overtime thriller in six games. With that win, it set up a matchup with the defending NBA Champions the Los Angeles Lakers.

Going into the series not many people game the Rockets much of a chance. The Lakers had the best record in the Western Conference by double digits. Most people around the world were anticipating a Lakers vs Celtics rematch from the year before. The Rockets had other plans.

1986 Game 5 Western Conference Finals: Houston Rockets vs L.A. Lakers

Image result for Ralph samspn buzzer beater–86_Houston_Rockets_seasonAs mentioned before the Rockets were heavy underdogs going into this series. The Lakers had only lost two games in the playoffs coming into their matchup with the Rockets. With a game 1 win at the forum by double digits many thought the series was already over.

From there the Rockets kicked it into high gear. Taking the next three games to take a 3-1 lead heading into game 5 at the Forum. The game didn’t start off well for the Rockets as they trailed 35-23 after the first quarter. The Rockets would slowly chip away at the lead cutting it under double digits at halftime. Olajuwon and Jabbar would battle all night both leading their teams in points and rebounds for the game.

The Rockets also outscored the Lakers in the third quarter and only trailed by two points heading into the fourth. Rodney McCray was the unsung hero for the Rockets playing point guard and also guarding Magic Johnson for most of the game. McCray would finish with 11 assists for the game. It was a back and forth in the fourth quarter and the game came down to the wire.

The one footnote to the ending of this game was Sampson after making a and 1 dunk was fouled hard by Lucas of the Lakers. Sampson took exception and immediately charged Lucas. If Olajuwon doesn’t hold Sampson back he more than likely would have been ejected and wouldn’t have played the rest of the game. Later on in the quarter though Olajuwon would be ejected for getting in a fight with Mitch Kupchak of the Lakers both were ejected but of course, the Lakers got the best of that ordeal.

The Shot

The Rockets trailed with under a minute left in the game 112-109. Robert Reid missed a corner jumper but the Rockets were able to get the rebound. On his second attempt Reid hit a huge 3-pointer to tie the game. The Lakers had a chance to win the game but when the ball was dumped down to Jabbar the Rockets quickly double teamed him. The Lakers swinged it around and Byron Scott missed a 18 foot elbow jumper. The Rockets got the rebound and then this happen.

Sampson all in one motion grabs the pass twisted his body and hit one of the greatest game-winners in NBA history! The Rockets eliminated the defending champions 4-1 in one of the greatest games in NBA history. Ralph Sampson carried the Rockets after Olajuwon was ejected in what would be his last full season with the Rockets.

The Rockets would go on to lose to the Celtics in six. Sampson would play only 19 games the following year and eventually be traded for Sleepy Floyd. The Rockets wouldn’t get back to the Finals until Clutch City.

In the next few weeks, I will recap some of the greatest games and moments of the Houston Rockets. There won’t be basketball for a while but we will have plenty of great Rockets content coming out every week!

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Contributing Writer for Space City Scoop, and a podcast host for Clutch City Control Room. I am also the creator of Rockets For Life. My articles have been featured on Bleacher Report, Sports Illustrated, and Apple News.