Lakers–Rockets rivalry

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Template:Infobox sports rivalry

The Lakers–Rockets rivalry is a National Basketball Association (NBA) rivalry between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Houston Rockets. It began in the 1980s during the Lakers' Showtime era. The two teams have met eight times in the NBA playoffs. In the 1980s the Rockets or Lakers represented the Western Conference in the NBA Finals. Since 1980, the Lakers have won 10 NBA titles appearing in 16 NBA Finals, while the Rockets have won 2 appearing in 4.

1980s

The two met in the first round of the 1981 NBA Playoffs, where the Lakers were the defending NBA champions led by Magic Johnson and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar to face the Rockets, led by Hall of Famer Moses Malone, who barely reached the playoffs with a 40–42 record. The Rockets won Game 1 111–107, but the Lakers won Game 2 111–106. Houston won Game 3 in L.A. 89–86 in one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. The Rockets went on an improbable run to the NBA Finals before losing to the Boston Celtics.

The two met again in the 1986 Western Conference Finals where the Lakers were again the defending NBA champions and faced the Rockets led by the "Twin Towers" of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson. Unlike 1981, Houston was a formidable foe, winning 51 games and the Midwest Division title. After the Lakers won Game 1, the Rockets won 4 straight to eliminate the Lakers in 5. With the game tied at 112 and 1 second left, Ralph Sampson made a 12-foot no-look off-balance miracle jumper at the buzzer to give the Rockets their second trip to the NBA Finals.[1] The Rockets would lose to the Celtics again in 6.

1990s

In 1990, the two teams met again in the first round. The Lakers were playing their first postseason without Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with rookie Vlade Divac taking his place. The Lakers won the first two games in Los Angeles. The Rockets won Game 3, but the Lakers eliminated them in Game 4, and the Lakers finally got their revenge. They then lost in the Western Conference Semifinals to the Phoenix Suns in 5.

1991

The two teams squared off in the first Round for the second straight time. This time L.A. was led by new coach Mike Dunleavy Sr., a former Rocket on the 1981 team that beat the Lakers. The Lakers won 58 games in the regular season but did not finish with the best record in the West for the first time since 1981. The Rockets, despite having Hakeem Olajuwon miss 26 games, finished with 52 wins, and Rockets coach Don Chaney was named Coach of the Year. However, the Lakers swept the Rockets 3–0. The Lakers went on to the NBA Finals, but lost to the Chicago Bulls in 5. The 1991 NBA Finals was the last for Magic Johnson and James Worthy.

1996

The first-round meeting in 1996 between the two featured the first time that the Houston Rockets were the defending NBA champions. During the season, Magic Johnson made a comeback, playing in his first NBA regular season game since 1991. The Lakers were primarily led by Eddie Jones, Nick Van Exel, Vlade Divac and Cedric Ceballos. The Rockets were led by future Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler. At the time, this matchup was one of the most hyped first-round matchups in NBA history. The Rockets and Lakers split the first two games in Los Angeles. However, the Rockets won the next two in Houston to take the series in 4. The Rockets were then swept in the Western Conference Seminfinals by the Seattle SuperSonics. This series marked the last time Magic Johnson played an NBA game.

1999

The 1999 first-round matchup featured a star-studded lineup for both teams. The Lakers were led by the trio of Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, and Glen Rice. The Rockets were led by a future Hall of Fame frontcourt led by Hakeem Olajuwon, Charles Barkley, and Scottie Pippen. The 1999 matchup featured Hakeem and Shaq meeting for the first time since the 1995 NBA Finals. The Lakers won the first 2 at home, but Houston took Game 3, led by Charles Barkley's triple double. L.A. won Game 4 and eliminated the Rockets. The Lakers would be swept by the San Antonio Spurs, who went on to win the NBA championship. However, the Lakers hired former Chicago Bulls head coach Phil Jackson and won three straight NBA titles. This matchup was the last postseason series for Charles Barkley.

Yao and Shaq controversy

Shaquille O'Neal received some media flak for mocking Chinese speech when interviewed about newcoming center Yao Ming, but he was able to downplay the media attention to the event.[2] Yao himself stated he did not find it offensive, but could see how others might misinterpret the remark as racist. ESPN's highest-rated regular season contest was the first matchup between Shaq and Yao in Houston. The game between the Lakers and Rockets scored a 3.82 cable Nielsen rating. The Rockets won 111–107.

2004 NBA Playoffs

The two teams met again in 2004, with the Lakers the favorite to win the NBA championship. The Lakers added future Hall of Famers Karl Malone and Gary Payton to go with Shaq and Kobe. The Rockets were a young team led by All-Stars Yao Ming and Steve Francis, both making their postseason debut. It was the only playoff meeting between Yao and Shaq. The Lakers won Game 1 on a Shaquille O'Neal putback dunk in the final seconds. Jim Jackson missed a 3 that would have won it at the buzzer. The Lakers won Game 2 easily, taking a 2–0 lead to Houston. The Rockets won Game 3 led by Steve Francis' first-ever playoff triple-double. It was the first postseason victory for the Rockets since Game 3 of the 1999 NBA Playoffs against the Lakers. The Lakers won Game 4 92–88 in OT. Steve Francis hit a jumper with under a minute left to send the game into OT. The Rockets held an 87–83 lead with under 2 minutes left. The key play was a 3-point play by Kobe that gave the Lakers the lead and made Yao foul out. The Lakers blew Houston out in Game 5 to win the series 4–1. The Lakers went to the NBA Finals, but were shocked by Detroit in 5.

2009 NBA Playoffs

They met again in 2009. The Lakers were heavy favorites to win, having swept the season series 4–0. In Game 1, Houston shocked L.A. with a 100–92 victory, in which Yao Ming scored 8 straight points in the final minutes after hurting his knee. The Lakers won the next two games to take a 2–1 series lead. In Game 3, Yao suffered an injury to his foot in the fourth quarter that was later reported to keep him out for the rest of the playoffs. However, the Rockets defeated the Lakers 99–87 in Game 4 in what was later deemed as Rockets point guard Aaron Brooks' "coming-out party." In Game 5, the Lakers crushed Houston in L.A. 118–78, but the Rockets earned a 95–80 victory in Game 6, which drew 7.35 million viewers, making it the most-watched basketball game ever on ESPN. However, the Lakers decisively took Game 7 89–70[3] to win the series 4–3. They went on to win the title by beating Orlando Magic 4–1 in the finals.

Annual results

Season NBA season
Lakers/Rockets Team associated with subsequent columns
W Wins
L Losses
% Winning percentage
Playoffs Final result in season's playoffs
Series Record in season's head-to-head matchups
style="Template:NBA color cell2"|* Lakers had more regular season wins than Rockets
style="Template:NBA color cell"|† Rockets had more regular season wins than Lakers
style="Template:NBA color cell2"|‡ Lakers won season series against the Rockets
style="Template:NBA color cell"|§ Rockets won season series against the Lakers
Season Lakers Rockets Series
Team W L % Playoffs Team W L % Playoffs
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|52* 30 .634 Lost NBA Finals San Diego Rockets 15 67 .183 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 7–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|55* 27 .671 Lost NBA Finals San Diego Rockets 37 45 .451 Lost Western Conference Semifinals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 7–0
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|46* 36 .561 Lost NBA Finals San Diego Rockets 27 55 .329 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 5–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|48* 34 .585 Lost Western Conference Finals San Diego Rockets 40 42 .488 3–3
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|69* 13 .841 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 34 48 .415 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 5–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|60* 22 .732 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 33 49 .402 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|47* 35 .573 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 32 50 .390 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 30 52 .366 Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|41 41 .500 Lost Eastern Conference Semifinals 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 40 42 .488 Houston Rockets 40 42 .488 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|53* 29 .646 Lost Western Conference Finals Houston Rockets 49 33 .598 Lost Eastern Conference Finals 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|45* 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets 28 54 .341 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 47 35 .573 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 47 35 .573 Lost Eastern Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 2–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|60* 22 .732 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 41 41 .500 Lost Eastern Conference Semifinals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 2–0
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|54* 28 .659 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets 40 42 .488 Lost NBA Finals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|57* 25 .695 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 46 36 .561 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|58* 24 .707 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 14 68 .171 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 5–0
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|54* 28 .659 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 29 53 .354 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|62* 20 .756 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 48 34 .585 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|62* 20 .756 Lost Western Conference Finals Houston Rockets 51 31 .622 Lost NBA Finals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|65* 17 .793 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 42 40 .512 Lost Western Conference Semifinals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|62* 20 .756 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 46 36 .561 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|57* 25 .695 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 45 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|63* 19 .768 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 41 41 .500 Lost Western Conference First Round 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|58* 24 .707 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 52 30 .634 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|43* 39 .524 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets 42 40 .512 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 39 43 .476 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|55 27 .671 Lost Western Conference Semifinals style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 3–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 33 49 .402 Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|58 24 .707 Won NBA Finals style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 3–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|48* 34 .646 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 47 35 .573 Won NBA Finals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–0
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|53* 29 .646 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets 48 34 .585 Lost Western Conference Semifinals style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 3–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 56 26 .683 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|57 25 .695 Lost Western Conference Finals style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 3–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|61* 21 .744 Lost Western Conference Finals Houston Rockets 41 41 .500 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 31 19 .620 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 31 19 .620 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 2–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|67* 15 .817 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 34 48 .415 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|56* 26 .683 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 45 37 .549 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|58* 24 .707 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 28 54 .341 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–0
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|50* 32 .610 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 43 39 .524 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|56* 26 .683 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 45 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 34 48 .415 Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|51 31 .622 Lost Western Conference First Round 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|45* 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets 34 48 .415 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 2–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 42 40 .512 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|52 30 .634 Lost Western Conference First Round 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|57* 25 .695 Lost NBA Finals Houston Rockets 55 27 .671 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 2–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|65* 17 .793 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 53 29 .646 Lost Western Conference Semifinals style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 4–0
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|57* 25 .695 Won NBA Finals Houston Rockets 42 40 .512 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 3–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|57* 25 .695 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 43 39 .524 style="Template:NBA color cell2"|Lakers 2–1
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers style="Template:NBA color cell2"|41* 25 .625 Lost Western Conference Semifinals Houston Rockets 34 32 .515 style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 2–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 45 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round Houston Rockets 45 37 .549 Lost Western Conference First Round 2–2
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 27 55 .329 Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|54 28 .659 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 3–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 21 61 .256 Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|56 26 .683 Lost Western Conference Finals style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 2–1§
Template:Nbay Los Angeles Lakers 17 65 .207 Houston Rockets style="Template:NBA color cell"|41 41 .500 Lost Western Conference First Round style="Template:NBA color cell"|Rockets 4–0§

NBA Playoffs

1981 Western Conference First Round

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 107–111 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Houston Rockets 106–111 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 3: Los Angeles Lakers 86–89 Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets win series 2–1.

1986 Western Conference Finals

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 119–107 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 102–112 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 117–109 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 4: Houston Rockets 105–95 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 5: Los Angeles Lakers 112–114 Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets win series 4–1.

1990 Western Conference First Round

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 101–89 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 104–100 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 114–108 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 4: Houston Rockets 88–109 Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers win series 3–1.

1991 Western Conference First Round

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 94–92 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 109–98 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 90–94 Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers win series 3–0.

1996 Western Conference First Round

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 83–87 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 104–94 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 104–98 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 4: Houston Rockets 102–94 Los Angeles Lakers

Houston Rockets win series 3–1.

1999 Western Conference First Round

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 101–100 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 110–98 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 102–88 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 4: Houston Rockets 88–98 Los Angeles Lakers

Los Angeles Lakers win series 3–1.

2004 Western Conference First Round

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 72–71 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 98–84 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 102–91 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 4: Houston Rockets 88–92 (OT) Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 5: Los Angeles Lakers 97–78 Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Lakers win series 4–1.

2009 Western Conference Semifinals

  • Game 1: Los Angeles Lakers 92–100 Houston Rockets
  • Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers 111–98 Houston Rockets
  • Game 3: Houston Rockets 94–108 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 4: Houston Rockets 99–87 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 5: Los Angeles Lakers 118–78 Houston Rockets
  • Game 6: Houston Rockets 95–80 Los Angeles Lakers
  • Game 7: Los Angeles Lakers 89–70 Houston Rockets

Los Angeles Lakers win series 4–3.

References

Template:Los Angeles Lakers Template:Houston Rockets Template:NBA rivalries