1995 NBA Finals

Last updated
1995 NBA Finals
1995NBAFinals.png
TeamCoachWins
Houston Rockets Rudy Tomjanovich 4
Orlando Magic Brian Hill 0
DatesJune 7–14
MVP Hakeem Olajuwon
(Houston Rockets)
Hall of Famers Rockets:
Clyde Drexler (2004)
Hakeem Olajuwon (2008)
Magic:
Shaquille O'Neal (2016)
Coaches:
Rudy Tomjanovich (2020)
Officials:
Dick Bavetta (2015)
Eastern Finals Magic defeated Pacers, 4–3
Western Finals Rockets defeated Spurs, 4–2
NBA Finals

The 1995 NBA Finals was the championship round of the 1994–95 National Basketball Association (NBA) season. The series pitted the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic against the defending NBA champion and Western Conference champion Houston Rockets. The pre-series hype and buildup of the Finals was centered on the meeting of the two centers opposing each other: Shaquille O'Neal of the Magic and Hakeem Olajuwon of the Rockets. Going into the series the matchup was compared to the Bill Russell Wilt Chamberlain matchup of the 1960s.

Contents

The Rockets became the first team in NBA history to beat four 50-win teams in a single postseason en route to the championship. The Rockets would win a playoff-record nine road games in the 1995 playoffs. It was the second NBA Finals sweep in the 2–3–2 Finals format (after the Detroit Pistons did so against the Los Angeles Lakers in 1989). The Rockets also became the first repeat NBA Champion in history to keep the title with a sweep. In addition, the Rockets became the first team in NBA history to win the title without having home-court advantage in any of the four playoff rounds since the playoffs was expanded to a 16 team format in 1984. Coincidentally, this feat would also be achieved by the New Jersey Devils that same year, when they won the Stanley Cup over the Detroit Red Wings.

The Orlando Magic, making their first NBA Finals appearance, began the series at home, hosting the defending champion Houston Rockets. With the Magic up 110–107 late in Game 1, Nick Anderson missed four consecutive free throws in the closing seconds of the game, and Kenny Smith hit a three-pointer, tying the game and sending it to overtime as well as setting a new record at the time, with the most three-pointers in an NBA Finals game with seven. The more experienced Rockets went on to win in overtime and eventually swept the Magic, winning their second consecutive NBA Championship. In achieving this, they earned the distinction of being the only team to win both championships during Michael Jordan's first retirement (although Jordan did return in the closing months of the 1994–95 season), in addition to being the only team other than the Chicago Bulls to win multiple championships in the 1990s.

The season-ending documentary Double Clutch by Hal Douglas, was released by NBA Entertainment to coincide with the Rockets' championship season.

Background

Houston Rockets

The Rockets entered the 1994–95 season as defending champions. They have won the first eight games of the season, [1] the first defending champions to have won their first eight games of their season since the 1987-88 Lakers. [2] However, they struggled to maintain last season's form due to injuries and off-court-distractions. On February 14, the Rockets acquired Clyde Drexler from the Portland Trail Blazers, but the trade of a hometown hero (Drexler was a teammate of Olajuwon at the University of Houston) did not improve matters, and the Rockets settled for the sixth seed with a 47–35 record.

However, Houston once again lived up to its Clutch City reputation come playoff time. En route to the Finals, the Rockets defeated three teams with 55 or more victories. They began by ousting the Utah Jazz in five games (the Rockets trailed 2–1 after three games), then repeating last season's comeback effort over the Phoenix Suns (wherein the Rockets trailed 3–1 after four games). In Game 7 of that series, Phoenix led Houston 51-42 after the first half before Houston mounted a comeback to get the series win, 115-114. [3] After dispatching the Suns, the Rockets outclassed the top-seeded San Antonio Spurs in six games of the conference finals. They also became the first team in NBA History to have lost all their home games of the series but won all road games of that certain series thus advancing to the next round.

Orlando Magic

The Magic were only in their sixth season of existence, but they were a team on the rise. Led by All-Stars Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway, new acquisition Horace Grant, and franchise cornerstones Nick Anderson and Dennis Scott, the Magic rolled through the Eastern Conference, winding up with a then-franchise best 57–25 mark.

Orlando's road to the Finals began with a convincing 3–1 series win over the Boston Celtics. They followed it up with a six-game ouster of Michael Jordan (returning from an 18-month retirement) and the Chicago Bulls in the second round, and in the conference finals, they vanquished the Indiana Pacers in a tough seven-game series.

Road to the Finals

Houston Rockets (Western Conference champion) Orlando Magic (Eastern Conference champion)
# Western Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1z-San Antonio Spurs 6220.756
2y-Phoenix Suns 5923.7203
3x-Utah Jazz 6022.7322
4x-Seattle SuperSonics 5725.6955
5x-Los Angeles Lakers 4834.58514
6x-Houston Rockets 4735.57315
7x-Portland Trail Blazers 4438.53718
8x-Denver Nuggets 4141.50021
9 Sacramento Kings 3943.47623
10 Dallas Mavericks 3646.43926
11 Golden State Warriors 2656.31736
12 Minnesota Timberwolves 2161.25641
13 Los Angeles Clippers 1765.20745

6th seed in the West, 11th best league record

Regular season
# Eastern Conference
Team W L PCT GB
1c-Orlando Magic 5725.695
2y-Indiana Pacers 5230.6345
3x-New York Knicks 5527.6712
4x-Charlotte Hornets 5032.6107
5x-Chicago Bulls 4735.57310
6x-Cleveland Cavaliers 4339.52414
7x-Atlanta Hawks 4240.51215
8x-Boston Celtics 3547.42722
9 Milwaukee Bucks 3448.41523
10 Miami Heat 3250.39025
11 New Jersey Nets 3052.36627
12 Detroit Pistons 2854.34129
13 Philadelphia 76ers 2458.29333
14 Washington Bullets 2161.25636
1st seed in the East, 4th best league record
Defeated the (3) Utah Jazz, 3–2First RoundDefeated the (8) Boston Celtics, 3–1
Defeated the (2) Phoenix Suns, 4–3Conference SemifinalsDefeated the (5) Chicago Bulls, 4–2
Defeated the (1) San Antonio Spurs, 4–2Conference FinalsDefeated the (2) Indiana Pacers, 4–3

Regular season series

The Orlando Magic won both games in the regular season series:

1995 NBA Finals rosters

Houston Rockets

Roster listing
1994–95 Houston Rockets roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
SF 15 Breaux, Tim 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)215 lb (98 kg)1970–09–19 Wyoming
SF 52 Brown, Chucky 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)214 lb (97 kg)1968–02–29 North Carolina State
PG 10 Cassell, Sam 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)185 lb (84 kg)1969–11–18 Florida State
PF 32 Chilcutt, Pete 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)230 lb (104 kg)1968–09–14 North Carolina
SG 22 Drexler, Clyde  (C)6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)210 lb (95 kg)1962–06–22 Houston
SF 17 Elie, Mario 6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)210 lb (95 kg)1963–11–26 American International
PF 7 Herrera, Carl 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)215 lb (98 kg)1966–12–14 Houston
PF 25 Horry, Robert 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)220 lb (100 kg)1970–08–25 Alabama
PF 27 Jones, Charles 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)215 lb (98 kg)1957–04–03 Albany State
SG 11 Maxwell, Vernon 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)180 lb (82 kg)1965–09–12 Florida
SF 31 Murray, Tracy 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)225 lb (102 kg)1971–07–25 UCLA
C 34 Olajuwon, Hakeem  (C)7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)255 lb (116 kg)1963–01–21 Houston
PG 30 Smith, Kenny 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)170 lb (77 kg)1965–03–08 North Carolina
C 55 Tabak, Žan 7 ft 0 in (2.13 m)245 lb (111 kg)1970–06–15 Croatia
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured

Orlando Magic

Roster listing
1994–95 Orlando Magic roster
PlayersCoaches
Pos.No.NameHeightWeightDOB (YYYY-MM-DD)From
SG 25 Anderson, Nick 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)205 lb (93 kg)1968–01–20 Illinois
PF 00 Avent, Anthony 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)235 lb (107 kg)1969–10–18 Seton Hall
SG 14 Bowie, Anthony 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)190 lb (86 kg)1963–11–09 Oklahoma
PF 54 Grant, Horace 6 ft 10 in (2.08 m)215 lb (98 kg)1965–07–04 Clemson
PG 1 Hardaway, Penny 6 ft 7 in (2.01 m)195 lb (88 kg)1971–07–18 Memphis
C 32 O'Neal, Shaquille 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)325 lb (147 kg)1972–03–06 LSU
C 30 Rollins, Tree 7 ft 1 in (2.16 m)235 lb (107 kg)1955–06–16 Clemson
SF 5 Royal, Donald 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)210 lb (95 kg)1966–05–22 Notre Dame
SF 3 Scott, Dennis 6 ft 8 in (2.03 m)229 lb (104 kg)1968–09–05 Georgia Tech
PG 20 Shaw, Brian 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m)190 lb (86 kg)1966–03–22 UC Santa Barbara
PG 22 Thompson, Brooks 6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)193 lb (88 kg)1970–07–19 Oklahoma State
PF 31 Turner, Jeff 6 ft 9 in (2.06 m)230 lb (104 kg)1962–04–09 Vanderbilt
Head coach
Assistant coach(es)

Legend
  • (C) Team captain
  • (DP) Unsigned draft pick
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (S) Suspended
  • Cruz Roja.svg Injured

Series summary

GameDateAway TeamResultHome Team
Game 1Wednesday, June 7Houston Rockets120–118 (OT) (1–0)Orlando Magic
Game 2Friday, June 9Houston Rockets117–106 (2–0)Orlando Magic
Game 3Sunday, June 11Orlando Magic103–106 (0–3)Houston Rockets
Game 4Wednesday, June 14Orlando Magic101–113 (0–4)Houston Rockets

This was one of only two NBA Finals in which the team who did not have home court advantage swept the series, (the other being the 1975 Finals, in which the Golden State Warriors swept the Washington Bullets).

All times are in Eastern Daylight Time (UTC−4).

Game 1

NBC
June 7
9:00 pm
Houston Rockets 120, Orlando Magic 118 (OT)
Scoring by quarter: 19–30, 31–31, 37–19, 23–30,  Overtime:10–8
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 31
Rebs: Clyde Drexler 11
Asts: Kenny Smith 9
Pts: Hardaway, O'Neal 26 each
Rebs: Grant, O'Neal 16 each
Asts: Shaquille O'Neal 9
Houston leads the series, 1–0
Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16,010
Referees:
  • No. 27 Dick Bavetta
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 29 Steve Javie

Kenny Smith hit a then-Finals record seven 3-pointers, the last tying the game up at 110 with 1.6 seconds left following Nick Anderson's four straight missed foul shots. In overtime, Hakeem Olajuwon tips in a missed finger roll by Clyde Drexler with three-tenths of a second left to win the game. Hakeem Olajuwon finished the game with 31 points, 6 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 blocks while Kenny Smith recorded 23 points and 9 assists.

Game 2

NBC
June 9
9:00 pm
Houston Rockets 117, Orlando Magic 106
Scoring by quarter:28–19, 35–22, 27–30, 27–35
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 34
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 11
Asts: Clyde Drexler 5
Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 33
Rebs: Shaquille O'Neal 12
Asts: Penny Hardaway 8
Houston leads the series, 2–0 [4]
Orlando Arena, Orlando, Florida
Attendance: 16,010
Referees:
  • No. 43 Dan Crawford
  • No. 42 Hue Hollins
  • No. 4 Ed T. Rush

Hakeem Olajuwon records a double-double with 34 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Rockets to a 117-106 victory to take a 2-0 series lead. The Magic, on the other hand, becomes the 2nd team in NBA Finals history to lose the first two of their four home games.

Game 3

NBC
June 11
7:00 pm
Orlando Magic 103, Houston Rockets 106
Scoring by quarter:30–28, 23–26, 22–21, 28–31
Pts: Shaquille O'Neal 28
Rebs: Anderson, Grant, O'Neal 10 each
Asts: Penny Hardaway 14
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 31
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 14
Asts: Drexler, Olajuwon 7 each
Houston leads the series, 3–0 [5]
The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
Referees:
  • No. 25 Hugh Evans
  • No. 13 Mike Mathis
  • No. 15 Bennett Salvatore

Robert Horry hit a three-pointer to give Houston a 104-100 lead with 14.1 seconds left. Orlando's Anfernee Hardaway then missed a three-pointer, and the rebound deflected off Dennis Scott and out of bounds with 6.8 seconds left, turning the ball over to Houston. Clyde Drexler was immediately fouled. He missed his first free throw and made the second for a 105-100 Rockets lead with 5.9 seconds left. Nick Anderson hit a three-pointer with 2.7 seconds left to bring the Magic within two points, and then Sam Cassell was immediately fouled. He needed to make both free throws to likely seal it, but missed the first. He made the second to give the Rockets a three-point lead with 2.2 seconds left. After a timeout to advance the ball to midcourt, the Magic had one last chance to tie the game and force overtime, but Hardaway missed a three-pointer as the buzzer sounded. The Rockets held on for a 106-103 win in Game 3 to take a 3-0 series lead and were one win away from their second consecutive NBA title.

Game 4

NBC
June 14
9:00 pm
Orlando Magic 101, Houston Rockets 113
Scoring by quarter: 21–23, 30–24, 25–30, 25–36
Pts: Hardaway, O'Neal 25 each
Rebs: Grant, O'Neal 12 each
Asts: Penny Hardaway 5
Pts: Hakeem Olajuwon 35
Rebs: Hakeem Olajuwon 15
Asts: Clyde Drexler 8
Houston wins the series, 4–0 [6]
The Summit, Houston, Texas
Attendance: 16,611
Referees:
  • No. 17 Joe Crawford
  • No. 20 Jess Kersey
  • No. 21 Bill Oakes

At the end of the first half, the Magic had a 4-point advantage of the home team, Rockets. However, the Rockets have another notable comeback as they outscored the Magic 66-50 in the second half, thus winning their second consecutive NBA championship. Olajuwon outscores O'Neal by 10 points and caps off the sweep by hitting a memorable yet uncharacteristic 3-pointer in front of O'Neal.

Olajuwon v. O'Neal

Although both centers played well, Olajuwon is generally considered to have outplayed O'Neal. Olajuwon outscored O'Neal in every game of the series and became one of the few players in NBA history to score at least 30 points in every game of an NBA Finals series: [7] [8]

1995 NBA FinalsGm 1Gm 2Gm 3Gm 4Totals
Hakeem Olajuwon3134313532.8 ppg
Shaquille O'Neal2633282528.0 ppg

By winning his second straight NBA Finals MVP award, Hakeem Olajuwon became the sixth player to win the award on multiple occasions, joining Willis Reed, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, and Michael Jordan. Jordan and Olajuwon at the time were the only players to win the award consecutively.

Player statistics

Legend
  GPGames played  GS Games started MPG  Minutes per game
 FG%  Field-goal percentage 3P%  3-point field-goal percentage FT%  Free-throw percentage
 RPG  Rebounds per game APG  Assists per game SPG  Steals per game
 BPG  Blocks per game PPG  Points per game
Houston Rockets
Houston Rockets statistics
PlayerGPGSMPGFG%3FG%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
Chucky Brown 409.5.455.0001.0002.80.00.00.53.0
Sam Cassell 4023.3.429.467.8331.83.01.80.014.3
Pete Chilcutt 301.0.000.000.0000.00.00.00.00.0
Clyde Drexler 4440.5.450.154.7899.56.81.00.321.5
Mario Elie 4440.3.649.571.9004.33.32.00.016.3
Robert Horry 4446.8.434.379.66710.03.83.02.317.8
Charles Jones 4014.3.500.0001.0001.80.00.00.01.0
Hakeem Olajuwon 4444.8.4831.000.69211.55.52.02.032.8
Kenny Smith 4426.3.379.421.0001.84.00.30.07.5
Orlando Magic
Orlando Magic statistics
PlayerGPGSMPGFG%3FG%FT%RPGAPGSPGBPGPPG
Nick Anderson 4440.3.360.323.3008.54.32.00.512.3
Anthony Bowie 406.5.600.500.0000.51.50.00.33.3
Horace Grant 4442.0.532.000.80012.01.50.50.513.5
Penny Hardaway 4443.0.500.458.9134.88.01.00.825.5
Shaquille O'Neal 4445.0.595.000.57112.56.30.32.528.0
Donald Royal 101.0.000.000.0000.00.00.00.00.0
Dennis Scott 4437.5.310.2411.0003.52.31.00.310.5
Brian Shaw 4021.0.426.385.0003.33.30.50.312.5
Jeff Turner 4010.8.200.333.0001.00.50.00.01.5

Media coverage

In the United States, the NBA Finals was broadcast on NBC television, with Marv Albert, Matt Guokas and Bill Walton calling the action. Ahmad Rashād, Hannah Storm, and Jim Gray served as sideline reporters, and studio coverage was handled by Bob Costas, Julius Erving and Peter Vecsey.

National radio coverage was provided by the NBA Radio Network, with Joe McConnell and Wes Unseld on the call. After the season, NBA Radio was dissolved and subsequent national radio broadcasts of the NBA Finals would be handled by ESPN Radio.

Aftermath

The Rockets' title reign ended in 1996, when they were swept by the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round. The Sonics were also the last team to beat the Rockets in the playoffs prior to their championship run, having eliminated them in the second round in 1993. That year, the Rockets won 48 games and achieved the fourth seed. The following offseason, they acquired former NBA MVP Charles Barkley in a trade, but age and injuries would take its toll and the closest the Rockets would achieve after their two-year championship reign was a six-game loss to the Utah Jazz in the 1997 Western Conference Finals.

The Magic won a franchise-record 60 games in the 1995–96 NBA season, but were swept by the Chicago Bulls in the 1996 Eastern Conference Finals. During the offseason, Shaquille O'Neal signed with the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom he went on to win three championships; he later added a fourth title to his resume with the Miami Heat in 2006. The Magic would not return to the Finals until 2009, which they lost to the Lakers in five games.

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The 1996–97 NBA season was the Rockets' 30th season in the National Basketball Association, and 26th season in Houston. During the offseason, the Rockets acquired All-Star forward Charles Barkley from the Phoenix Suns, and signed free agents Kevin Willis, Brent Price, undrafted rookie guard Matt Maloney and re-signed three-point specialist Matt Bullard, who was a member of the championship team from the 1994 NBA Finals. The Rockets blasted off to a 21–2 start, but later on struggled posting a six-game losing streak between January and February. Barkley averaged 19.2 points and 13.5 rebounds per game, but appeared in just 53 games due to ankle and hip injuries. At midseason, the Rockets signed free agents Eddie Johnson and Sedale Threatt as they won 14 of their final 17 games, finishing second in the Midwest Division with a 57–25 record. Barkley, Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and head coach Rudy Tomjanovich all represented the Western Conference during the 1997 NBA All-Star Game. However, Barkley and Drexler did not play due to injuries. Olajuwon averaged 23.2 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game, and was named to the All-NBA First Team, and NBA All-Defensive Second Team. Drexler finished third on the team in scoring with 18.0 points per game, while Maloney led them with 154 three-point field goals, and was named to the NBA All-Rookie Second Team.

2009 NBA Finals

The 2009 NBA Finals was the championship series of the National Basketball Association's (NBA) 2008–09 season. The best-of-seven playoff was contested between the Western Conference champion Los Angeles Lakers, and the Eastern Conference champion Orlando Magic. The Lakers were favored to win the championship over the Magic. The Lakers defeated the Magic, four games to one, to win the franchise's 15th NBA championship. The 63rd edition of the championship series was played between June 4 and June 14 and was broadcast on U.S. television on ABC.

Rockets–Spurs rivalry National Basketball Association cross-state rivalry in Texas

The Rockets–Spurs rivalry is an NBA rivalry between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. It is also known as the I-10 Rivalry since San Antonio and Houston lie on Interstate 10, it is one of the three National Basketball Association rivalries between teams from Texas, the others featuring Houston and San Antonio versus the Dallas Mavericks.

The 1995–96 NBA season was the Magic's seventh season in the National Basketball Association. During the offseason, the Magic signed free agent Jon Koncak. Coming off their trip to the NBA Finals, where they were swept in four games by the Houston Rockets, the Magic won their second straight Atlantic Division title with a 60–22 record, a regular season record which still stands as the best in franchise history. This despite missing Shaquille O'Neal for the first 22 games of the season due to a thumb injury. Anfernee Hardaway stepped up in O'Neal's absence and was awarded Player of the Month for November, as the Magic got off to a 13–2 start. The season saw Dennis Scott take a place in the league history books by scoring 267 three-point field goals, a single season record since broken by Stephen Curry. Scott set a then-record of 11 three-point field goals in a 119–104 home win against the Atlanta Hawks on April 18, 1996. Scott finished third on the team in scoring averaging 17.5 points per game. Hardaway averaged 21.7 points, 7.1 assists and 2.0 steals per game, and was named to the All-NBA First Team. O'Neal averaged 26.6 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game, while being named to the All-NBA Third Team. Both Hardaway and O'Neal were selected for the 1996 NBA All-Star Game, while power forward Horace Grant made the NBA All-Defensive Second Team. This was also the only season of O'Neal's NBA career where he hit his only three-pointer in a 121–91 home win against the Milwaukee Bucks on February 16, 1996.

References

  1. "1994-95 Houston Rockets Schedule and Results" . Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  2. "1987-88 Los Angeles Lakers Schedule and Results" . Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  3. "Houston Rockets at Phoenix Suns Box Score, May 20, 1995" . Retrieved July 29, 2019.
  4. Roarin' Rockets send Magic reeling, 2-0 Manila Standard June 11, 1995
  5. Houston poised for sweep Manila Standard June 13, 1995
  6. Two-rrific Two-ston Manila Standard June 16, 1995
  7. History of the NBA Finals: Hakeem Olajuwon: The NBA’s Best In The Mid ’90s, hollywoodsportsbook.com, accessed February 16, 2007.
  8. NBA Finals Records Archived 2007-10-13 at the Wayback Machine , Basketball.com, accessed February 16, 2007.