• Print
The 2002-2003 season will conclude 28 years of Houston Rockets basketball in Compaq Center, as the Rockets will move to a new downtown Houston arena home beginning in November 2003. Two NBA championships. Four division titles. Unlimited memories. Compaq Center has seen it all since opening in November 1975. Join us as we take a daily look back at some of the greatest games, moments and memories in the storied arena’s history.

Mar. 31, 1990
Otis Thorpe ties Robert Reid for the second best shooting night in Rockets history as he and Hakeem Olajuwon both score 24 points in Houston’s 106-98 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. Thorpe finishes the night 12-of-13 from the field, second only to Joe Meriweather’s perfect 10-of-10 performance against Atlanta in 1976. The night completes an amazing six-game stretch for Thorpe in which he connects on 56-of-69 shots (.812) and averages 21.5 points.

Mar. 30, 1996
Not even the news the Rockets had officially clinched a playoff berth could cheer up anyone on this night. With the Rockets down to just eight healthy players, Portland’s Rod Strickland takes advantage of Houston’s depleted backcourt to record a career-high-tying 20 assists as the Blazers blow out the Rockets, 109-94. Golden State’s loss to Cleveland earlier in the night gives Houston a playoff berth but it doesn’t seem to matter. “Right now, nobody here is in a good mood,” says Pete Chilcutt. “You hate to fall back and use the guys who aren’t here as an excuse. But we need them back – bad.”

Mar. 29, 1990
Hakeem Olajuwon becomes the third player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double by finishing with 18 points, 16 rebounds, 10 assists and 11 blocked shots in Houston’s 120-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. A Lewis Lloyd jumper with 2:50 to play gives Olajuwon his 10th assist of the night, completing the milestone and giving the Rockets center a place in the NBA record books. “It’s a very big accomplishment for me,” Olajuwon says. “I believe I’m a complete player.”

Mar. 28, 1989
Hakeem Olajuwon scores 36 points and grabs 12 rebounds as the Rockets hold off a late flurry of three-point attempts by the Seattle Sonics to pull out a 120-117 victory. In a wild second half that sees neither team lead by more than six points, Olajuwon hits one of two free throws with 32 seconds to play to give Houston a 120-117 lead. On Seattle’s ensuing possession Dale Ellis is the first to misfire, but teammate Derrick McKey grabs the rebound. His three-point attempt is off, but goes out of bounds off Olajuwon. With 11 seconds remaining, McKey hoists up another three. The ball rattles out and the Rockets secure the win.

Mar. 27, 1997
Passing is the name of the game for Houston in a 107-89 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Through the first three quarters the Rockets have 25 assists on 30 buckets, leading to a comfortable 16-point lead entering the final period. “You have to do that against them because they’re going to double-team your first option,” Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich says. “You have to move the ball. And then it comes down to shooting.” Eddie Johnson records his first double-double in three years with 27 points and 10 rebounds to lead Houston.

Mar. 26, 1988
A late hook shot with 49 seconds remaining by Jim Petersen, who had scored just one point up to that point, gives the Rockets a two-point cushion over the Portland Trail Blazers, and Houston hangs on for a 115-109 win. With the Rockets leading by nine points midway through the fourth quarter the Blazers mount a comeback, capped by Clyde Drexler’s baseline drive that ties the score with just over a minute left. But Petersen’s shot closes the door on Portland’s comeback hopes and gives the Rockets the victory. Hakeem Olajuwon leads Houston with 29 points and 21 rebounds.

Michael Dickerson shares the Rockets rookie record with seven 3-pointers made in a single game.
Bill Baptist/NBAE
Mar. 25, 1999
Led by rookies Cuttino Mobley and Michael Dickerson, the Rockets make a team-record 17 three-pointers in a 113-104 win over the Toronto Raptors. Mobley and Dickerson both set the Rockets rookie record for three-pointers made by nailing seven bombs apiece. Dickerson finishes the night with 28 points while Mobley pours in 26. Charles Barkley records a near triple-double with 19 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists.

Mar. 24, 1994
With the Rockets trailing the L.A. Lakers by a point with 9:25 remaining, Hakeem Olajuwon decides this is his time to take over the game. During the final nine minutes, Olajuwon scores 15 of his game-high 37 points, carrying Houston to a 113-107 victory. After scoring back-to-back three-point plays down the stretch, the Compaq Center crowd breaks into chants of “MVP, MVP, MVP.” The support doesn’t go unnoticed by Olajuwon. ‘When the fans are screaming ‘MVP,’ you don’t want to disappoint them,” he says. “That’s a very good feeling. They really fire you up with that.”

Mar. 23, 1991
The Rockets extend their club-record winning streak to 11 games with a 111-98 defeat of the New York Knicks. The anticipated duel between centers Hakeem Olajuwon (24 points) and Patrick Ewing (25 points, 15 rebounds) lives up to its pregame hype, but it’s Olajuwon’s Rockets who come away with the important W. With Houston holding an 11-point lead, David Wood nails a three-pointer and Sleepy Floyd and Otis Thorpe follow with layins two minutes into the final period to give the Rockets an insurmountable lead the Knicks cannot overcome.

Mar. 22, 1990
The Rockets give head coach Don Chaney the best birthday present he could have wished for – a 115-110 win over the red-hot Detroit Pistons, who entered Compaq Center having won 12 straight games and 25 of their last 26. Hakeem Olajuwon blows out the candles on Chaney’s birthday cake by registering 26 points and 10 rebounds to lead the way for Houston while Buck Johnson adds 20 points. “The script for my birthday couldn’t have been written any better,” Chaney says. “I thought the game was played with playoff intensity. And I think the players enjoyed it because of that.”

Mar. 21, 1991
The Rockets record their 10th straight victory and clinch a playoff berth for the seventh consecutive season with a 98-87 win over Sacramento Kings. The 10 consecutive wins represent a franchise record and have Houston thinking big about its chances in the playoffs. “Now we feel like we’re one of the top teams in the NBA,” Rockets guard Sleepy Floyd says. “We feel like we can’t lose. We’re looking to do a lot more of this.” Otis Thorpe has a huge night with 28 points and 12 rebounds to pace Houston.

Mar. 20, 1987
Takin’ care of business. That’s what the Rockets do on this night against the worst team in the NBA – the Los Angeles Clippers, who enter Compaq Center with a meager 11-54 mark. Hakeem Olajuwon pours in 28 points in just 32 minutes as Houston coasts to an easy 126-98 win. Rodney McCray, who added 17 points of his own, gets the Rockets started with six quick first-quarter points and Houston never looks back. “That’s what basketball is all about,” McCray says. “Having fun.”

Mar. 19, 1985
This was Hakeem Olajuwon’s final head-to-head opportunity to sway a few Rookie of the Year votes his way. Facing fellow rookie Michael Jordan and the Bulls, Olajuwon has a huge game with 24 points, 21 rebounds and four blocked shots in the Rockets’ 106-100 victory. Although Jordan eventually captured the Rookie of the Year award, Olajuwon gives the voters something to think about on this night.

Mar. 18, 1978
Calvin Murphy scores 32 points in the first half and then gets even hotter in the fourth quarter. The Rockets guard registers Houston’s last 17 points to give him a team-record 57 for the game, but it isn’t enough to prevent the Rockets from falling to the New Jersey Nets, 106-104. Murphy finishes the game 24-of-40 from the field and 9-of-12 from the free throw line.

Calvin Murphy was inducted into the NBA Hall of Fame in 1993.
Mar. 17, 1984
As a player, Calvin Murphy gave everything he had to the Rockets, and in return they made certain no one would ever wear his No. 23 again. Murphy’s No. 23 becomes the second number retired by the Rockets when it joins Rudy Tomjanovich’s No. 45 in the rafters. Rockets forward Robert Reid says Murphy’s jersey will serve as an inspiration. “I think every Rockets player who looks up at No. 23 from now on will think about what competitive spirit means. There has never been a better competitor than Murph.”

Mar. 16, 1987
The Bulls’ Michael Jordan scores 44 points, but even he can’t prevent Houston’s Rodney McCray from tipping in the winning bucket for a 97-96 Rockets win. Hakeem Olajuwon leads Houston with 28 points, four assists and four blocks, while McCray finishes with 22 points, including the game-winner. “McCray played me well,” Jordan says. “He made me have to stop and pull up.”

Mar. 15, 1986
The Rockets set a team record with 50 assists on a Compaq Center-record 64 field goals in a 148-116 win over the L.A. Clippers. Hakeem Olajuwon, returning from a 14-game absence due to a knee injury, and Jim Petersen lead a balanced Rockets scoring attack with 19 points apiece. Rockets head Coach Bill Fitch is able to rest his starters in the fourth quarter with Houston maintaining a 114-80 advantage entering the final period.

Mar. 14, 1996
An animated halftime pep talk by coach Rudy Tomjanovich is just what the Rockets need to recover from a sluggish first half as Houston goes on to register a 114-106 victory over the Atlanta Hawks. In their first home appearance following a five-game road trip, the Rockets go on a 25-6 run to start the third quarter and then cruise home to their 12th win in 16 games. “Coach got on us a little at haltime,” says guard Sam Mack. “He said this is not the time to come home and play soft. I think we responded to that.”

Mar. 13, 1986
With starting guard John Lucas on the sidelines while awaiting word on the results of his drug test, Allen Leavell steps in at the point to record a career-high 22 points as the Rockets soar past the Portland Trail Blazers, 126-118. “It really felt strange starting after playing off the bench so long,” Leavell says. A big night by Ralph Sampson, who had 32 points and 17 rebounds, helps Houston extend Portland’s road losing streak to nine games.

Mar. 12, 1991
The Rockets ride Hakeem Olajuwon’s efficient evening to a 93-91 win over the Seattle SuperSonics. In just 34 minutes of action, the Dream pours in 32 points on 13-of-17 shooting, grabs nine boards and blocks four shots, including an attempt by Seattle’s Shawn Kemp with less than a minute remaining to seal the win. “I never saw him coming,” Kemp says. Neither does his Sonics teammates all night long as Olajuwon torments Seattle centers Benoit Benjamin and Michael Cage with a variety of post moves and Dream Shakes.

Mar. 11, 1999
A dose of Bryant Reeves is all Hakeem Olajuwon needs on this night. Olajuwon turns in his most dominating game of the shortened 1998-99 season, finishing with 31 points and 11 rebounds in leading the Rockets to a 102-91 win over the Vancouver Grizzlies. Olajuwon makes it look easy against Reeves, connecting on his first nine shot attempts on his way to a new season-high in points. “I thought Dream was a tower of strength,” says Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich. “He had his rhythm and his confidence.”

Allen Leavell was a fifth-round draft selection of the Rockets in 1979.
Mar. 10, 1987
In a game featuring a triple-double and double overtime, a controversial foul call is all the Rockets can talk about following a 136-127 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics. With the Rockets clinging to a two-point lead with 13 seconds remaining in the first overtime, Allen Leavell is whistled for a foul and Eddie Johnson converts two free throws to force the second extra session. “I had all ball,” Leavell says. The loss wipes out one of the best individual performances of Hakeem Olajuwon’s career. The Dream finishes with 38 points, 17 rebounds, 12 blocks, seven steals and six assists.

Mar. 9, 1991
On the night he adds an “H” to his name, Hakeem Olajuwon barely breaks a sweat. With the Rockets turning up the defense, Olajuwon turns over the offense to his teammates in a 97-80 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Through three quarters Olajuwon has registered just seven points and three rebounds, but it matters little as Kenny Smith (19 points) and Vernon Maxwell pick it up to help Houston coast to the win. “This is a team, emphasis on team,” Smith says. “We’ve got five guys in here who can score 30 points in any game. And we’re all confident now.”

Mar. 8, 1986
Trailing the San Antonio Spurs by 21 points in the second quarter, few in attendance at Compaq Center think the Rockets have any chance of mounting a comeback. All except John Lucas, that is. The Rockets coach keeps the faith while his team is down early and then watches as Ralph Sampson scores 13 fourth-quarter points to lead Houston to the improbable 126-117 victory. “It might have looked helpless to a lot of people,” Lucas says. “And it looked hopeless to some of us, too. I said ‘Keep going! Keep going! We’re going to win!’ ”

Mar. 7, 1991
The Rockets connect on 60.5 percent of their shots in an easy 122-90 win over the Dallas Mavericks. A five-point Houston lead at the half quickly balloons into an 18-point margin as Vernon Maxwell keys a Rockets surge with back-to-back three-pointers. “This is the way it should be,” Hakeem Olajuwon says. “Any team that comes into (Compaq Center), they should know they are in trouble. That’s what our reputation should be.” Otis Thorpe scores 24 points, Kenny Smith adds 19 and Maxwell finishes with 12 points and seven assists.

Mar. 6, 1986
Ralph Sampson contributes one of his finest outings of the season with 35 points and 16 rebounds as the Rockets close out the Sacramento Kings by a score of 116-105. "When Ralph starts well, you can normally expect him to have a great night," says Rockets guard John Lucas. Sampson pours in a couple of quick buckets in the first 30 seconds of the game, and then helps put the contest away with a 15-point third quarter that gives the Rockets an insurmountable 16-point lead.

Mar. 5, 1989
The Rockets end a seven-game losing streak with a big 88-83 win over the defending NBA champion L.A. Lakers. The 83 points are the fewest the Lakers have ever scored against Houston. "Breaking it against anybody would have been great," says Sleepy Floyd, who scores the Rockets’ final seven points. "But against the Lakers, you know you have to go up to another level to win."

Mar. 4, 2000
Steve Francis and Cuttino Mobley combine for only 29 points, but their Rockets teammates make enough big baskets down the stretch to clip the New Jersey Nets, 99-92, in overtime. "Over the last three games we won, everyone's been contributing. Everybody's been scoring,” says Francis. Rockets center Kelvin Cato, in his second game since coming off the injured list, has 11 points, seven rebounds and five blocked shots. He scores all of his points in the fourth quarter and overtime.

Mar. 3, 1998
Hakeem Olajuwon had a hard time grasping that he had just broken Calvin Murphy’s team record of 1,002 games played. “A thousand games? Wow,” he says. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to play 1,000 games, especially with the same team. That’s quite an accomplishment.” Olajuwon led the Rockets to a 107-97 win over the L.A. Clippers in his 1,003rd game, scoring 18 points and grabbing 15 rebounds.

Cuttino Mobley was runner-up for NBA Sixth Man of the Year during the 1999-2000 season.
Bill Baptist/NBAE
Mar. 2, 2000
Cuttino Mobley steps off the bench to lead the Rockets in scoring for the fourth consecutive game. Mobley drops in 22 points in a variety of ways in helping the Rockets squeak by the Sacramento Kings, 102-99. But it’s his defensive play that helps Houston seal the victory. With 22 seconds remaining, Mobley races back on defense to contest a potential game-tying layin by Sacramento’s Jon Barry. The shot is off and the Rockets hold on for the win. “He saved the game,” says Hakeem Olajuwon of Mobley’s play.

Mar. 1, 1994
Houston gets back to its winning ways as Hakeem Olajuwon gets the best of Shaquille O’Neal with 26 points, seven rebounds, six blocks and five assists in a 97-85 win over the Orlando Magic. Rockets guard Sam Cassell chips in with 16 points and five assists. "I couldn't be prouder," coach Rudy Tomjanovich says. "If we were sitting around here for three days on a three-game losing streak, it really eats at you. Hakeem was great, and Sam couldn't have picked a better time for a great game. He gave us a new dimension."

FEBRUARY

Feb. 28, 1988
Lester Conner steps into a starting role in place of guard Sleepy Floyd, who was in North Carolina tending to his ill mother, and leads the Rockets to a 108-95 triumph over the San Antonio Spurs. Conner mostly distributes the ball to Hakeem Olajuwon, who collects 26 points and 15 boards. "We gave the ball to Lester Conner and I thought he did well,” says Rockets coach Bill Fitch. “He did a good job in the half-court game and he didn't slow us down too much on the fast break."

Feb. 27, 1996
With guards Clyde Drexler and Mario Elie already sidelined with injuries, the Rockets could hardly afford to lose another backcourt member. But that’s exactly what happens when Sam Cassell goes down with an elbow injury in the second quarter. What do the Rockets do with just one healthy guard, Kenny Smith, remaining? This one’s easy. They simply give the ball to the reigning two-time Finals MVP and get out of his way. Hakeem Olajuwon scores 15 points in the fourth period to carry Houston to a 105-100 win over Toronto, which was making its first-ever appearance at Compaq Center.

Feb. 26, 1992
Hakeem Olajuwon nails a rainbow jumper from the top of the key as time expires, capping Houston’s comeback from an 18-point, second-half deficit and giving the Rockets a 118-116 win over the Golden State Warriors. As the shot nestles into the net, Rudy Tomjanovich, in just his fourth game as Rockets interim coach, sprints onto the court wildly with arms raised in celebration. “We’ve been working on last-second plays in practice this week,” Rudy T. says. “And the play we called didn’t work. But Otis (Thorpe) had great poise to wait for Hakeem to come open.”

Feb. 25, 1995
Sam Cassell puts on a passing exhibition and collects a career-high 16 assists, leading the Rockets to a 112-105 win over the Golden State Warriors. Clyde Drexler finishes with 22 points, including four fast-break conversions on dishes from Cassell. I knew I had quite a few (assists) in the first half," Cassell says. "I must have hit Clyde (Drexler) with at least eight of them. With Clyde, I know if I run the court he's going to be there. He's flashing or cutting somewhere. All I have to do is find him."

Ralph Sampson averaged a double-double (19.7 points, 10.5 rebounds) in five seasons with the Rockets.
Feb. 24, 1986
With a crowd of 15,851 cheering them on, the Rockets come from five points down in the final 1:58 to claim a 110-105 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. Ralph Sampson leads Houston with 28 points, 19 rebounds and four blocked shots. Sampson makes the game much tighter than it should have been by making only one of six free throws in the final 2:29. "I'm upset with myself more than anybody else is about those free throws," Sampson says. "But you know, if I wasn't working and getting those rebounds and putting the ball back up, I wouldn't have been getting those free throws in the first place."

Feb. 23, 1987
The Denver Nuggets come into Houston ready to run multiple defensive sets to stop Hakeem Olajuwon’s point production. On this night, however, the Rockets decide to flip the script on the Nuggets and make Olajuwon their primary passer instead. The other four Rockets starters come out blazing and connect on 27 of their 41 shot attempts. Olajuwon records five assists in the first half by drawing multiple defenders and kicking it to open shooters. Houston ends up shooting an amazing 61 percent from the field and nails the Nuggets by a score of 124-108. Olajuwon still manages to score 31 points, mostly in the second half, and Jim Peterson posts a career-high 22 points. Five Rockets finish the contest with five or more assists, led by Rodney McCray’s eight.

Feb. 22, 1994
Five Rockets reach double figures in scoring led by Hakeem Olajuwon, who tosses in 33 points and grabs 13 rebounds as Houston slips by the Denver Nuggets, 98-97. The Rockets defense steps up late and prevents Denver guard Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf from attempting a potential game-tying three-pointer. Abdul-Rauf does manage to connect on a meaningless two-point basket, but it is not enough to stop the Rockets from securing the best record in the league at 37-13. “As soon as I got the ball, they were coming," says Abdul-Rauf. (Vernon) Maxwell was right there, and Olajuwon was right there. I knew we needed a three-pointer, but I couldn’t get it off."

Feb. 21, 1991
Otis Thorpe scores 28 points and dominates the glass with teammate Larry Smith as the duo combines for an astonishing 40 rebounds in leading the Rockets to a 92-90 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. With Houston up by two in the final seconds, the Bucks go to Jack Sikma but his shot attempt falls short and the Rockets escape with the narrow victory. With the win Houston becomes the 10th team in the NBA to reach the 30-win plateau.

Feb. 20, 1988
Jim Petersen surprises the Rockets crowd and the Washington Bullets with a season-high 22-point and 13-rebound outing. Houston defeats Washington, 115-109, mainly due to Petersen’s performance. The Rockets forward connects on 10-of-12 shots, including a beautiful layup over 7-6 Manute Bol. “I’ve been pumped up about playing since Ralph Sampson was traded," says Petersen. “I just knew in my heart I was going to do a great job."

Feb. 19, 1996
A desperation three-pointer by Sacramento’s Tyrone Corbin at the end of regulation hits nothing but net and the Rockets head to overtime where Hakeem Olajuwon takes over. The Houston center scores the first six points in the extra session to help the Rockets outlast the Kings, 118-111. The Dream, who finishes with 40 points in the contest, registers the 26th 40-point game of his career. “Hakeem’s effort was phenomenal," says Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich.

Feb. 18, 1993
Rockets reserve Carl Herrera comes off the bench and scores a career-high 18 points, and Houston places seven players in double figures in a 119-84 victory over the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are limited to 32 percent field goal shooting over the first three quarters, allowing the Rockets to lead by as many as 39 points. “I have to give our defense an A-plus," says Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. “That’s the key to this team. We score so much better when we feed off our defense."

Feb. 17, 1989
Rockets big men Otis Thorpe and Hakeem Olajuwon have a field day against an inferior Denver Nuggets frontline as they combine for 55 points and 28 rebounds in a 121-111 Houston victory. Guard Sleepy Floyd also provides Houston with a three-point barrage, connecting on all five of his three-point attempts. Floyd misfires from two-point range, making just 1-of-7 attempts, but the Rockets go on to win their third consecutive game. “He’s not taking two-pointers anymore," says Olajuwon. “He’s only taking threes."

Robert Horry was a sparkplug on Houston's back-to-back NBA championship teams of 1994 and 1995.
Getty Images
Feb. 16, 1993
After resigning from the slam dunk contest a day earlier to rest a sore heel, Robert Horry plays in pain and dunks the Philadelphia 76ers for 29 points in his best outing of the season. The Rockets put forth a record-breaking offensive night and blitz the 76ers, 149-111. Horry finishes 11-of-15 from the field and has five of the Rockets' season-high 43 assists. “It’s a lot easier to do that when you’re up by 20 points," says Horry. “You can throw the ball up there, and you just know it’s going in. And if it doesn’t, you’re still up by 20." Kenny Smith and Hakeem Olajuwon also combine for 41 points and Otis Thorpe pulls down 17 rebounds in the Houston blowout.

Feb. 15, 1994
In their first game after the All-Star break, Kenny Smith and Hakeem Olajuwon put together dynamic performances against the Atlanta Hawks. Smith has his first double-double of the season with 18 points and 10 assists while Olajuwon does his usual destruction with 28 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists. The Rockets hold Atlanta to 14 points in the third quarter and Houston gains the lead with an 18-6 second half spurt, leading the Rockets to a 103-99 victory. Houston avenges an earlier loss to Atlanta that snapped its record 15-0 start. “It’s the first giant step toward the right direction," says Olajuwon. “It was an intense game."

Feb 14, 1995
Clyde Drexler, acquired in a trade with Portland earlier in the day, watches from the sidelines as a makeshift Rockets squad manages to pull off a 124-104 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers. Mario Elie plays well in place of suspended Houston guard Vernon Maxwell, while Tim Breaux and Pete Chilcutt make their first starts of the season replacing the traded Otis Thorpe and injured Robert Horry. With only four bench players, the Rockets ride a career-high 23 points from reserve Scott Brooks to avenge a 122-107 loss to the Clippers a week earlier in Los Angeles.

Feb. 13, 1996
Dallas's young guard Jason Kidd, leading the NBA with five triple-doubles, enters Compaq Center looking to put on a show. Old pro Clyde Drexler steals Kidd’s show by putting on an exhibition of his own. Drexler goes off for 21 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists to lead the Rockets to a 121-106 win over the Mavericks. “Every now and then you get lucky," says the 33-year-old Drexler. “You find the wheelchair and make some things happen. Then you put the wheelchair away." Sam Cassell unleashes 31 points on the Mavs, and forward Robert Horry sparks a second-half run by scoring all nine of his points in the third period.

Feb. 12, 2002
With Steve Francis sidelined by recurring migraines, Cuttino Mobley turns up the defense with a late steal to help preserve Houston’s 85-78 win over Memphis. The Grizzlies trail by three and have the ball with 28 seconds remaining when Mobley cuts in front of Shane Battier to steal a pass and then convert a three-point play on the other end to put the game away. “Coach told me to try to pressure the ball when it comes in," Mobley says. “I tried to get the steal, got the steal and turned that around."

Feb. 11, 1982
After a while, it played like a broken record. A Rockets player misses a shot and Moses Malone is there again and again to grab the rebound. It happens so often, Malone sets an NBA record with 21 offensive rebounds on a night he scores 38 points and pulls down 32 total rebounds in Houston’s 117-100 win over Seattle. “He’s so dominant," Elvin Hayes says. “In my opinion, he’s the best offensive rebounder to ever play the game."

Jim Petersen averaged 7.6 points in four seasons with the Rockets from 1984-88.
Feb. 10, 1987
With Ralph Sampson out with a knee injury, the Rockets are in desperate need of someone to step up big against the San Antonio Spurs. Rockets reserve Jim Petersen, receiving a rare start, scores 19 points and grabs a game-high 12 rebounds as Houston demolishes the Spurs, 115-92. “Recently my offensive game has come around," says Petersen. Hakeem Olajuwon contributes 25 points and Rodney McCray finishes with 23 for the Rockets.

Feb. 9, 1988
The Rockets rack up their highest point total against the Boston Celtics in 15 years and record their first regular season win over the Celtics in five seasons with a 129-120 victory. Despite a 44-point outburst by Boston’s Larry Bird, Houston rewards coach Bill Fitch with the victory over his former team as the Rockets receive double-doubles from Hakeem Olajuwon (30 points, 16 rebounds) and Rodney McCray (23 points, 11 boards). “We were playing aggressive on the boards," Olajuwon says. “We took it to them."

Feb. 8, 2000
Rockets guard Steve Francis sees limited action in his first game back from a knee injury. Forwards Shandon Anderson and Walt Williams step up offensively and lead Houston to a 91-83 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Anderson pours in 23 points and grabs 10 boards while Williams posts 17 points. “I’ve been trying to tell people, It’s not my team; it’s all of our team," Francis says. “We all work hard. We were fortunate we were able to play this way together."

Feb. 7, 1994
Matt Bullard and Robert Horry were never officially members of the Detroit Pistons, but they did spend a weekend with them. The Rockets traded the duo to Detroit for Sean Elliott, but after Elliott failed his physical Bullard and Horry were sent back to Houston. The Rockets medical staff would not clear Elliott to play because of a kidney condition. The inspired play of Horry later helps the Rockets win the 1994 title over the New York Knicks.

Feb. 6, 1990
After squandering most of a 22-point, third-quarter lead, the Rockets regain their focus in the final minute to pull away from the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves for a 108-101victory. The T’Wolves rally to outscore Houston 31-20 in the final period and on six occasions close within three points. With Minnesota looking to tie the score late in the game, T’Wolves reserve Scott Roth is whistled for an offensive foul to seal the Rockets victory. “It could have been a big disaster," says Rockets forward Otis Thorpe. “And even though we came out with a win, for some reason, it feels like we lost something because we had the opportunity to blow this team out."

Feb. 5, 1987
After learning before the game that teammate Ralph Sampson would be out six weeks with an injured knee, Hakeem Olajuwon knows he will have to carry the team until Sampson returns. Olajuwon then goes out and comes within one blocked shot of recording his second career triple-double, as he drops 21 points, 11 rebounds and nine blocks on Joe Barry Carroll and the Golden State Warriors in a 120-110 Rockets victory. “Hakeem controlled Joe Barry very well in the first half," teammate Jim Petersen says. “He might have intimidated him, throwing him off his shots. Joe Barry was always looking over his shoulder, looking for Hakeem."

Feb. 4, 1988
In the last game before the All-Star break, the New Jersey Nets come into Houston sporting a dismal 1-20 road record. On this night the Rockets begin their vacation a little early by overpowering the Nets, who commit 27 turnovers. Purvis Short leads the Rockets bench brigade with 24 points and Rodney McCray adds 19 as Houston defeats the Nets, 115-87. Hakeem Olajuwon is not even needed, but still manages to post 10 points in a foul-plagued 20 minutes of action.

Kennard Winchester played 107 games for the Rockets from 1990-92.
Getty Images
Feb 3, 1991
Otis Thorpe, Vernon Maxwell, Kenny Smith and Buck Johnson combine for 125 points and Kennard Winchester slaps away a Mitch Richmond shot in the final seconds to preserve a 143-135 win over the Golden State Warriors. Floyd makes a living at the charity stripe, setting team records of free throws made (22) and attempted (27). With Richmond, Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway all having big nights, Houston proves that five solid players can beat three stars. “We had a lot of key efforts, but none were as big as the block by Kennard," said Coach Don Chaney. “Here’s a guy who has been sitting the whole game and he busts his butt to get back and make the big defensive play."

Feb. 2, 1988
While facing heated rival Phoenix, Larry Nance pushes Hakeem Olajuwon while each is running down the court. Olajuwon responds with a slap to the forward’s arm and the two have a brief altercation. No players are ejected, and Olajuwon regains his focus to finish with 26 points and 15 rebounds in a 109-99 Houston victory. The Rockets have an excellent day on the boards as Olajuwon, Joe Barry Carroll, Jim Petersen and Rodney McCray all reach double digits in rebounds. “There’s something about that Phoenix team that brings out the beast in us," says Rockets guard Lester Conner.

Feb. 1, 1990
The Rockets close the curtain on the Air Jordan Show as they demolish the Chicago Bulls, 139-112. Michael Jordan displays his usual greatness with 35 points, including 25 in the first half, but Houston clamps down on MJ’s supporting cast. Scottie Pippen, Horace Grant, John Paxson and Bill Cartwright all have miserable nights, while Rockets forward Otis Thorpe torches the Bulls for 30 points and 13 rebounds. Hakeem Olajuwon also pours in 23 points in the Rockets rout.

JANUARY

Jan. 31, 1995
Sam Cassell starts the second half in place of the struggling Kenny Smith and helps the Rockets breeze by the Denver Nuggets 86-74. The Rockets take control of the game by putting forth their best defensive effort of the season, and Cassell leads the Houston offense on a 16-0 run. “I went with the guy I thought was a step above everyone else out there," said Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich. Cassell finished with 13 points and 10 assists.

Jan. 30, 1997
With Charles Barkley and Clyde Drexler sidelined with injuries, Hakeem Olajuwon is the only member of the Rockets who shows up to play in a 113-109 loss to the hot-shooting Denver Nuggets. Olajuwon scores 48 points, but gets a little fatigued down the stretch. After shooting 22-of-33 from the field at one point, Olajuwon goes 1-for-7 in the game’s final 8:30. “If we keep going to Dream like that, were going to wear him out, and I think that showed in the last few minutes," says Mario Elie.

Jan. 29, 1991
With Vernon Maxwell struggling through a 2-for-16 shooting night, Kenny Smith catches fire and scores the Rockets' last eight points, including a 16-foot bank shot with 1.8 seconds remaining to lift Houston past the San Antonio Spurs, 91-89. Smith finishes with 23 points and eight assists. “It’s the best game Kenny has had when we’ve finished with a win," says Rockets Head Coach Don Chaney. “He’s had bigger offensive games, but we’ve come away with losses. And you can never consider a loss your best game." Otis Thorpe leads the Rockets with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

Jan. 28, 1982
Back in 1970, NBA players or their wives cleaned their uniforms at home. When Sophie Tomjanovich took her husband’s uniform out of the wash for the first time, she immediately noticed something was wrong. “I had never washed, cooked or done household chores before," she said. “The uniform was originally a beautiful, vivid green. When I finished washing it, it looked like someone had thrown mud on it." Rudy T. got a clean uniform the next day and for the next 11 years he wore one as a member of the Rockets. On this night the Rockets decided that his No. 45 would be the first number retired to the rafters.

Steve Francis was unstoppable against the Warriors.
Bill Baptist/NBAE/Getty Images
Jan. 27, 2000
Steve Francis has a monster game and records his first career triple-double. Francis scores 25 points, grabs 17 rebounds, and dishes out a career-best 14 assists in a losing effort. Plagued by crucial mistakes down the stretch, the Rockets fall to the Golden State Warriors, 115-110. “We basically handed them the game," says Francis. “It seemed liked the last couple games we’ve been going backward instead of going forward."

Jan. 26, 1991
Rockets sharpshooter Vernon Maxwell comes out blazing and burns the Cleveland Cavaliers for a career-best 51 points, including a franchise-record 30 points in the fourth quarter. The Rockets slip by the Cavs, 103-97, as Mad Max joins Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, Calvin Murphy, and Elvin Hayes as the only Rockets to reach the 50-point mark. “I’ve been around a long time, but that was one of the most impressive one-man shows I’ve ever seen," says Rockets coach Don Chaney.

Jan. 25, 1986
Hakeem Olajuwon scores 12 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter as the Rockets overcome a nine-point deficit in the final period to defeat the Detroit Pistons, 117-112. Olajuwon, who also pulls down 18 rebounds, nails four big outside jumpers in the late going to help seal the win for Houston. “Hakeem hit some unbelievable shots down the stretch," says Pistons coach Chuck Daly. “Every time they wanted or needed a key basket, they just got the ball in to Hakeem and he got the job done."

Jan. 24, 1991
With Hakeem Olajuwon out due to an injury, Larry Smith steps in and continues his hard-nosed play. Smith controls the paint and grabs 23 rebounds as the Rockets cruise past the expansion Minnesota Timberwolves, 118-94. “He dominated the game, and there was no way we were going to make a run the way that guy was rebounding," says Minnesota coach Bill Musselman. Kenny Smith and Vernon Maxwell combine for 41 points, nailing 17-of-28 shots from the field. Otis Thorpe also has a great outing with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Jan. 23, 1986
The Rockets bench steps up and overcomes the loss of Rodney McCray (injury) and Ralph Sampson (ejection) in a 124-107 win over the Sacramento Kings. Midway through the third period, Sampson is booted from the game following a skirmish with Otis Thorpe. Robert Reid picks up the slack and leads the bench brigade with a season-high 23 points, while Jim Petersen contributes 10 points, seven boards and five blocked shots as Houston’s reserves outscore their Sacramento counterparts, 53-26.

Jan. 22, 1994
The Rockets exert an all-out effort to snap a four-game losing streak, as Hakeem Olajuwon scores 40 points to help Houston hold off the Utah Jazz, 106-101. The Rockets defeat the Jazz for the sixth consecutive time and climb to four games ahead of Utah in the Midwest Division standings. “That was the important thing, not letting the skid go on," said Kenny Smith. “We're four games up on Utah now. If we had lost, we would have been two games up. That’s a big difference. We want to keep that cushion for the second half of the season."

Jan. 21, 1993
Hakeem Olajuwon scores 38 points on his 30th birthday to carry the Rockets to a 126-120 win over the Detroit Pistons. He adds eight rebounds, seven blocks and four assists while Vernon Maxwell chips in with 22 points and eight boards in leading Houston to its seventh straight victory. “Hey, Hakeem scored his age tonight," says 37-year-old teammate Tree Rollins following the game. “No,"Olajuwon responds. “I scored your age."

Otis Thorpe averaged 9.7 rebounds per game during his seven seasons with the Rockets.
Jan. 20, 1990
The Rockets pound the Washington Bullets on the glass, compiling a 59-41 rebounding advantage in a 127-107 victory. “You put Otis Thorpe next to Hakeem (Olajuwon) and you’ve got two grown men, not boys," Washington’s Darrell Walker says. “You can’t win when a team gets that many offensive rebounds." The trio of Olajuwon, Thorpe and Mitchell Wiggins combine for 19 of Houston’s 23 offensive boards on the evening. Olajuwon finishes with 23 points and 21 rebounds overall.

Jan. 19, 1997
With Mario Elie and Clyde Drexler turning up the defense in the final period, a 19-0 fourth quarter run fuels the Rockets to a 102-86 win over Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls. In the second half, with Elie shadowing his every move, Jordan goes 0-for-9 from the field while Drexler outplays Bulls forward Scottie Pippen, who finishes with just five points on 2-of-14 shooting from the field. Drexler also records a triple double with 17 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds.

Jan. 18, 2000
Steve Francis and Kenny Thomas have the most prolific scoring games of their rookie seasons in leading the Rockets to a 90-89 win over the Portland Trail Blazers. Thomas finishes with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Francis has 26 points, including the game-clinching jumper over Rasheed Wallace that elicited an ill-fated dance attempt by the Rockets guard. “That wasn’t a dance," Francis says. “That was kind of a locomotive or something to get warmed up. I’m not a dancer."

Jan. 17, 1990
Everyone already knew of Hakeem Olajuwon’s ability to score, rebound and block shots. But until he racked up six assists in Houston’s 107-98 win over Cleveland, not many realized how effective a passer he could be. “He’s our Joe Montana," quipped Rockets coach John Lucas. A recently implemented change in offensive philosophy was allowing Olajuwon to roam 12 to 15 feet from the basket in addition to his normal post-up position. “I don’t like to be restricted," Olajuwon said. “I like it this way. We can keep the defense guessing." Oh by the way, Olajuwon also scored 19 points, pulled down 19 rebounds and blocked eight shots on the evening.

Jan. 16, 1993
Hakeem Olajuwon scores 42 points and grabs 12 rebounds in Houston’s thrilling 104-102 victory over the New York Knicks. Hakeem also blocks three shots, including a potential game-tying layup by New York’s Greg Anthony to preserve the win. Anthony beats Rockets guard Winston Garland down the lane for a layup attempt that would send the game to overtime, but Olajuwon comes from the opposite side of the lane to swat away the shot just ahead of the final buzzer. “Hakeem is the world’s best center," Garland says. “I’ve never seen anybody better."

Jan. 15, 1996
Mario Elie punctuates Houston’s 107-99 win over the Utah Jazz with a thunderous dunk over Karl Malone with 13.7 seconds remaining, bringing the Compaq Center crowd to its feet and giving the Rockets a much-needed victory over one of their division rivals. “We knew they were sagging in on Hakeem (Olajuwon), and we figured one of us could crash the boards while one of us stayed back on defense," says Clyde Drexler. “Mario went in and made a spectacular dunk."

Jan. 14, 1992
Otis Thorpe continues his push for the All-Star team with his second career triple-double in Houston’s 111-94 defeat of the Denver Nuggets. “Otis deserves to be on the All-Star team, no question," says Hakeem Olajuwon. “The coaches should notice." One coach that certainly paid attention was Nuggets head man Paul Westhead, who watched Thorpe collect 16 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists against his team. “That’s something not a lot of power forwards can do," says Thorpe of the triple-double.

Vernon Maxwell celebrates after nailing another of his notorious buzzer-beaters.
Allsport
Jan. 13, 1995
Mad Max does it again. Vernon Maxwell, who has made a history of nailing improbable, game-winning, buzzer-beating shots, swishes a 28-foot three-pointer with 0.4 seconds remaining to give the Rockets a 103-100 win over the San Antonio Spurs. With the game tied and 3.4 seconds on the clock, Maxwell catches the inbounds pass near midcourt, takes a couple of dribbles and launches the game-winner, sending an exuberant Compaq Center crowd into a celebratory frenzy.

Jan. 12, 1989
With a 116-106 win over the Portland Trail Blazers, the Rockets overtake the Utah Jazz for first place in the Midwest Division. Mike Woodson paces Houston with 22 points and adds a career-high-tying seven steals. Purvis Short, making just his second start of the season, chips in with 16 points and nine rebounds. “I can’t stop talking about Purvis," says Rockets coach Don Chaney. “Tonight he was fantastic. He rebounded, played defense and scored."

Jan. 11, 1986
A sellout Compaq Center crowd shows up to see how Hakeem Olajuwon would fare against Washington’s Manute Bol, but the 7-6 center is no match for The Dream. Olajuwon’s putback at the final buzzer gives the Rockets an 87-86 win, their 20th straight at home. With seconds remaining and Houston trailing by a point, Olajuwon goes up for a dunk but his attempt is swatted away by Dan Roundfield. Ralph Sampson keeps the play alive, tipping it to the left side of the goal where Olajuwon grabs the ball and gently drops it in to provide the winning points.

Jan. 10, 1987
The Dallas Mavericks entered Compaq Center in first place in the Midwest Division. After dismantling the Mavs 106-96 on this evening, many of the Rockets felt Dallas's stay atop the standings would be a short one. “We’re the landlords and they’re renting out first place," says Rockets guard Dirk Minniefield. A flu-ridden Hakeem Olajuwon drops 25 points and 20 rebounds on the Mavs and leads a third-quarter charge in which Houston outscores Dallas 29-16 in the period to take control of the game.

Jan. 9, 1990
Entering the game, Hakeem Olajuwon’s career scoring average against Seattle was one of his lowest against any team in the NBA. He makes the Sonics pay on this evening, collecting 38 points, 15 rebounds and seven blocks in Houston’s 97-90 win. With less than two minutes remaining and the Rockets clinging to a six-point lead, Olajuwon makes the play of the game, swatting away a layup attempt by Seattle’s Xavier McDaniel. “That may be the best block I’ve seen in 15 years," says Rockets coach Don Chaney.

Jan. 8, 1994
With Vernon Maxwell, Robert Horry and Matt Bullard all sidelined with injury or illness, Mario Elie steps in and makes his first-ever start for the Rockets. Elie is up to the challenge, as his 19 points, six rebounds and four assists leads Houston to a 100-93 win over the Philadelphia 76ers. Scott Brooks, who adds 10 points off the bench, is impressed. “To win the championship, in the past, teams that have had injuries or other distractions have had guys come off the bench and produce," he says. “That’s a sign of a great, championship team."

Ralph Sampson endured five solid but injury-plagued seasons with the Rockets from 1983-87.
Brian Drake/Allsport
Jan. 7, 1986
The Rockets reject a team-record 18 shots and Hakeem Olajuwon registers the first triple-double of his career as Houston collects its 18th straight home win with a 124-115 victory over the Golden State Warriors. Olajuwon, with 26 points, 12 rebounds and 11 blocks, and Ralph Sampson (22 points) are too much inside for the Warriors. The Rockets take advantage of the absence of Warriors bruiser Larry Smith, who after pulling down 30 rebounds in the first two meetings with Houston sits this one out with a sprained ankle.

Jan. 6, 1990
It is a career night for a couple of Rockets. Sleepy Floyd dishes out 19 assists while teammate Buck Johnson pours in 28 points, both representing career highs, to lead Houston to a 124-119 overtime win over the Philadelphia 76ers. With the score tied a 119 with 22 seconds remaining, Hakeem Olajuwon puts a spin move on the Sixers defense and is hacked by Ron Anderson. The shot drops, as does the free throw, and the Rockets secure another victory.

Jan. 5, 1991
Otis Thorpe does his best Hakeem Olajuwon impersonation, leading the Rockets to a 112-99 win over the Indiana Pacers. With Olajuwon out at least a month with a fractured bone near his right eye, Thorpe steps up and drops 29 points, 13 rebounds and six assists on the Pacers. “I feel like I am the one guy that we’re going to look to inside for more scoring," Thorpe says of his role in the absence of Olajuwon. “But I felt like we needed this win as much for togetherness as anything."

Jan. 4, 1986
The Rockets up their home record to a perfect 17-0 with a pulsating 115-100 win over the Philadelphia 76ers before a sellout Compaq Center crowd. Credit the Rockets defense for this win, as Houston shuts out Sixers All-Stars Moses Malone and Charles Barkley in the fourth quarter. Lewis Lloyd leads all five Rockets starters in double figures with 21 points. “There’s Boston and L.A. and then Houston is right there," says Sixers coach Matt Guokas. “They’re one of the best three teams in the league."

Jan. 3, 1989
A three-point attempt at the buzzer by Utah’s John Stockton rims out, preserving a 104-102 win for the Rockets. With 8:25 remaining in the game, the Rockets hold a 13-point lead but watch as the Jazz come storming back led by Stockton, who finishes with 26 points and 24 assists. Clinging to a two-point lead with 10 seconds left Derrick Chievous misses a shot for Houston, setting up Stockton’s game-winning attempt. But his shot bounces high off the rim and into the waiting hands of Hakeem Olajuwon.

Jan. 2, 1997
The Rockets fall behind by 14 points in the first quarter and are never able to catch up in a 112-96 loss to the Portland Trail Blazers. Critical free throw misses, porous defense and a lack of offensive movement by the home team make this a night to forget for Rockets fans. The lone bright spot for Houston is Charles Barkley’s 30 points and 14 rebounds. “I can explain in three letters 'N-B-A,' says Rudy Tomjanovich. “It’s a tough league. If you’re not focused, you’re not going to win."

DECEMBER

Dec. 31
Tonight’s game will mark the first-ever New Year’s Eve contest in Compaq Center history. In fact, the Rockets have played just two games on Dec. 31 in franchise history, with both contests occurring while the team was located in San Diego. In the San Diego Rockets' inaugural season the L.A. Lakers defeated the Rockets 147-118 on New Year’s Eve 1968. Two seasons later San Diego dropped a 143-126 decision to the Milwaukee Bucks on Dec. 31, 1969.

A big win over the Sonics helped Charles Barkley ease the guilt of a wild New Year's Eve celebration.
Stephen Dunn/Allsport
Dec. 30, 1996
The Rockets get a head start on their New Year’s celebrations with a 99-91 win over the defending Western Conference-champion Seattle SuperSonics. Hakeem Olajuwon has a solid game with 24 points and 10 rebounds while Charles Barkley registers 25 points and 14 boards. “It was a terrific effort," Barkley says. “Now I won’t even have to feel guilty about getting hammered on New Year’s Eve."

Dec. 29, 1994
Trailing the Golden State Warriors 124-123 with three seconds remaining, the Rockets need a miracle. Their prayers are answered by Vernon Maxwell. The Rockets guard is the beneficiary of a botched play when he finds his hands on the ball with the seconds winding down. Falling out of bounds, Maxwell turns and throws in an improbable three-pointer at the buzzer, leading to a wild Compaq Center celebration. “It lucked up being in my hands," Maxwell says. “I thought it (the shot) would be short, but it went in."

Dec. 28, 1995
Hakeem Olajuwon records his second triple-double of the season and 12th of his career with 22 points, 18 rebounds and 10 assists in Houston’s 97-82 win over the New Jersey Nets. Mario Elie steps up in place of the injured Clyde Drexler to add 20 points. “I’m mad at Clyde," Elie says. “I want to kill him for getting hurt. I’m just trying to go out there and make some things happen. They don’t call me JYD (Junk Yard Dog) for nothing."

Dec. 27, 1994
With Atlanta Hawks Head Coach Lenny Wilkens on the verge of equaling Red Auerbach’s NBA record for career coaching wins, the Rockets had no plans to become a part of history. “We didn’t want to be the ones," says Rockets guard Vernon Maxwell. “He’s going to have to get the record somewhere else." Hakeem Olajuwon helped ensure he did. Olajuwon scores 16 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter to lead a comeback in which the Rockets wipe out a 13-point Hawks lead en route to a 105-93 victory.

Dec. 26, 1985
The Rockets rally for a 106-99 victory over the Utah Jazz behind 15 points and a career-high 25 rebounds from Ralph Sampson. The game is witnessed by the first Compaq Center sellout of the season. With Houston trailing 85-80 entering the final period, the duo of Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon takes control down the stretch to secure the win. Olajuwon adds 21 points and 15 boards for the Rockets, who move to a perfect 15-0 at home with the victory.

Dec. 23, 1986
The Rockets jump on the struggling L.A. Clippers early and cruise to an easy 121-96 win. The Clippers, missing Norm Nixon, Larry Drew and Marques Johnson due to injury, had dropped 17 of their last 18 games entering the contest. Hakeem Olajuwon and Jim Petersen lead the Rockets with 20 points apiece, with Petersen’s marking a career high. “I can’t believe my career high was only 19 points," says Petersen. “I’m not a part of the offense as much as I’d like to be. But I took it upon myself to do a few things offensively."

Buck Johnson averaged 9.6 points in six seasons with the Rockets.
Dec. 22, 1988
The duo of Johnson & Johnson leads the Rockets to a 125-109 win over the L.A. Clippers in a game featuring a couple of stunning long-range heaves. Buck Johnson scores a career-high 24 points, while teammate Frank Johnson adds a season-high 14 points, six assists and five boards. Buck Johnson also has an incredible 55-foot three-pointer that banks in with one second left in the third quarter. On the subsequent inbounds pass, the Clippers' Danny Manning throws in a 45-foot shot at the buzzer.

Dec. 21, 1995
Playing their first game since Clyde Drexler went down with a shin injury two days earlier, the Rockets look a little lackluster but have enough to outlast the Portland Trail Blazers, 91-86. In Drexler’s absence, the brunt of the load predictably goes to Hakeem Olajuwon, who needs 29 shots to score 30 points. “This was a big, crucial game," says coach Rudy Tomjanovich. “We needed to build the confidence that this team can and will win without Clyde."

Dec. 20, 1990
The Rockets struggle against the team with the worst record in the NBA but eventually pull out a 128-126 overtime win over the Orlando Magic. Seldom-used David Wood explodes for a career-high 27 points off the bench and Hakeem Olajuwon registers a triple-double with 24 points, 16 rebounds and 11 assists to lead the way for Houston. “This was like when Buster Douglas cut Mike Tyson in Japan," Olajuwon says. “They were All-Stars for this game."

Dec. 19, 1995
A 103-96 win over the Phoenix Suns is dampened when Clyde Drexler collides with Charles Barkley early in the second quarter and has to leave the game on a stretcher. Drexler crumples to the floor in pain as the Compaq Center crowd watches in silence. “It was a very anxious moment," says coach Rudy Tomjanovich. “The flashes that go through your mind - you remember Dream getting carried off the floor and being out for a month. You always worry about something like that."

Dec. 18, 1993
The Rockets improve their amazing season-opening mark to 21-1 with a 104-93 win over the 1-21 Dallas Mavericks. Houston’s bench outscores its Mavs counterparts by a whopping 40-5 margin, including 13 points from Sam Cassell and 11 from Matt Bullard. “This team really gives new meaning to the word ‘team,' " says Scott Brooks, another member of the Rockets bench brigade. “We said from day one that to win, we would have to play together. We have that unique trust in each other that many pro teams don’t have."

Dec. 17, 1989
Hakeem Olajuwon fills up the stat sheets in Houston’s 109-94 win over the Orlando Magic. Olajuwon scores 32 points, pulls down a career-high-tying 25 rebounds and blocks 10 shots for the fifth triple-double of his career. Olajuwon, making his first-ever appearance against the expansion Magic, blocks three consecutive shots in the fourth quarter to help the Rockets pull away for the win. “The discouraging aspect of going to the basket and getting shot after shot blocked kind of got to us," says Orlando coach Matt Guokas.

Dec. 16, 1997
The Rockets rack up a season-high 16 steals in a 118-91 victory over the Vancouver Grizzlies. Clyde Drexler leads the charge with 22 points, 10 assists, six rebounds and five steals. The thefts give him 2,115 steals for his career, moving him past Alvin Robertson into fourth place on the NBA’s all-time list. “To be a good steals man, speed helps," says teammate Emanual Davis of Drexler. “And you have to have great anticipation and good hands. Clyde’s got all three of those attributes."

Derrick Chievous owns the Rockets record for most points in an overtime session.
Dec. 15, 1988
Rookie Derrick Chievous scores a Rockets-record 12 points in the second overtime as Houston pulls out a 124-115 win over the Golden State Warriors. Chievous's 12 extra session points falls just two shy of Butch Carter’s NBA mark for most points in an overtime period. After 7-7 Manute Bol’s first-ever three-pointer brings Golden State to within a point at 104-103, Chievous goes to work to seal the deal for Houston. “He was the man," Warriors coach Don Nelson says of Chievous.

Dec. 14, 1991
The San Antonio Spurs outscore the Rockets 32-21 in the fourth period to claim a come-from-behind 107-100 win over Houston. Up 98-97 with three minutes remaining, Houston misses four straight shots while San Antonio converts on three straight chances to put the Spurs ahead 103-98 with just under two minutes left. A couple of turnovers by the Rockets down the stretch seal the win for the Spurs. Vernon Maxwell was one of the lone bright spots for Houston with 35 points.

Dec. 13, 1986
For just the second time all season the Rockets start the tandem of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson, and the duo leads Houston to a 119-106 defeat of the Sacramento Kings. Olajuwon, playing on a sprainked ankle, pours in 31 points in just 28 minutes and Sampson scores 20 points, pulls down 14 boards and blocks five shots. Guard Lewis Lloyd, climbing out of coach Bill Fitch’s doghouse to get his first start of the season, adds 17 points for the Rockets.

Dec. 12, 1989
Hakeem Olajuwon scores 25 points, grabs 20 rebounds and blocks nine shots as the Rockets defeat the Phoenix Suns 105-83. Houston Head Coach Don Chaney decides to leave Olajuwon on the court in the final minutes in an attempt to complete the center’s triple-double but the Suns won’t go near him, instead opting for perimeter shots. “We’ve got Hakeem back there blocking shots, and that intimidates a lot of people," says Rockets forward Otis Thorpe.

Dec. 11, 1993
The Rockets defeat the Seattle Sonics, 82-75, in a battle of the Western Conference’s two best teams. With the win Houston moves to 19-1 on the season while the Sonics depart Compaq Center with a 16-2 mark. The game at times more resembles a football game than a basketball contest. “What a classic defensive battle," says Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich. “It was down in the trenches, mud all over you. It reminded me of the old Detroit-Green Bay games."

Dec. 10, 1985
The Rockets move their home record to a perfect 13-0 with a 134-105 pounding of the Utah Jazz. The margin of victory is Houston’s largest ever over Utah. Guards Allen Leavell and Mitchell Wiggins post season highs of 19 and 18 points, respectively, while Hakeem Olajuwon is his usual self with 27 points, 14 rebounds and five blocks. “When we play that way, getting production from so many people, we are real contenders," says Rockets coach John Lucas.

Vernon Maxwell had a unique knack for hitting game-winning shots.
Tim DeFrisco/Allsport
Dec. 9, 1993
With the Rockets trailing the Miami Heat 101-98 with 3.3 seconds remaining in regulation, Vernon Maxwell takes the inbounds pass, turns and hits a 30-foot heave at the buzzer to send the game to overtime, where the Rockets eventually pull out a 115-109 win to run their record to 18-1. “There was no skill involved at all," Maxwell says. “It was pure luck. But like Kenny (Smith) said afterward, if anybody can make that kind of shot, it’s me. Luck counts."

Dec. 8, 1994
After missing their first nine three-point attempts over the first seven minutes of the final period, the Rockets finally decide to go in another direction. They turn to Robert Horry, who comes up with a couple of big plays down the stretch, including a game-clinching dunk off a lob pass from Sam Cassell with 39.7 seconds remaining to help the Rockets hold off the Hornets, 101-95. Houston finishes with a team record-tying 30 three-point attempts on the evening.

Dec. 7, 1993
The Rockets manhandle the Charlotte Hornets, 121-102, for their 17th win in 18 tries to begin the 1993-94 season. With Hakeem Olajuwon hobbled by foul trouble, Otis Thorpe steps up and pours in a career-high 40 points on 14-of-19 shooting to hand Charlotte its fifth straight loss. “I really got it going," Thorpe says. “I had a rhythm in everything I did tonight. It was a great feeling." Kenny Smith adds 20 points for Houston.

Dec. 6, 1990
The Rockets jump out to a 17-point lead, let the Charlotte Hornets cut the deficit to four in the final period, then watch as Hakeem Olajuwon takes control down the stretch. Olajuwon finishes with 39 points, 20 rebounds and six blocked shots as Houston hangs on for a 116-100 win. “We were having fun," Olajuwon says. “We were laughing. That’s the way this game is supposed to be. We tried to keep it simple. Sometimes we make things too complicated."

Dec. 5, 1987
Purvis Short scores 27 points on 13-of-15 shooting from the field against his former team as the Rockets rout the Golden State Warriors, 121-96. “I felt that no matter where I got the ball or in what position, I was going to score," says Short, who was acquired from Golden State in a preseason deal for Dave Feitl and a No. 1 draft pick. As a team, Houston finishes the contest hitting 64 percent of its shot attempts, a then-Compaq Center record for field-goal accuracy.

Dec. 4, 1996
The Rockets sweep the Boston Celtics in a season series for the first time in franchise history with a 94-89 win behind 19 points, 27 rebounds (including a team-record 22 on the defensive end) and seven assists from Charles Barkley. Houston struggles offensively most of the evening but turns up the “D" in the fourth period to pull away for the victory. “They just write down wins and losses," Barkley says. “They don’t care about any of the other stuff."

Mike Woodson averaged 9.8 points in three seasons with the Rockets.
Mike Powell/Allsport
Dec. 3, 1988
All five starters reach double figures as the Rockets get big contributions from Mike Woodson and Sleepy Floyd in a 108-104 defeat of the expansion Charlotte Hornets. Woodson (29 points) and Floyd (17 points and 13 assists) lead a second half charge in which Houston erases a 17-point third quarter deficit for the win. Former Rockets forward Robert Reid, making his first Compaq Center appearance after being dealt to the Hornets in the offseason, leads Charlotte with 24 points.

Dec. 2, 1995
Clyde Drexler goes off for a season-high 41 points as the Rockets glide to a 113-98 win over the Charlotte Hornets, whose misguided game plan includes backing off the Rockets guard, forcing him to launch mostly outside jumpers. Drexler makes the Hornets defense pay with a host of perimeter jumpers, at one point hitting 13 consecutive shots. “A smart team always continues to go to a player on fire, and Rudy kept calling my number, and I was on," Drexler says.

Dec. 1, 1987
Ralph Sampson and Hakeem Olajuwon combine for 42 points and 31 rebounds and take over down the stretch in Houston’s 106-101 win over the Denver Nuggets. Sampson, who pulls down 15 of his 17 boards after the intermission, hits a three-foot hook shot with 30 seconds remaining to help seal the victory for the Rockets. “I hope the biggest thing to happen from this is that fans learn to appreciate what Ralph does," teammate Cedric Maxwell says. “We’re not going to win without Ralph."

NOVEMBER

Nov. 30, 1993
The Rockets equal the second-best start in NBA history with a 102-91 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. The victory moves Houston to 14-0 on the season. For the 14th consecutive game the Rockets do not allow their opponents to score 100 points or shoot 50 percent from the field, the second-best defensive start in NBA history. “There was a point where we started wondering about ourselves," says Rockets forward Otis Thorpe. “Finally in the fourth period, we established our defense and extended the lead."

Nov. 29, 1994
After reeling off nine straight wins to open the season, the Rockets had dropped three games in a row with the Denver Nuggets coming to town. Hakeem Olajuwon makes sure the losing skid doesn’t reach four, as his 27 points leads Houston to a 96-81 win. “After losing three in a row, you have to regroup," Olajuwon says. “There are going to be little dips. The key is to be at the highest level at the end, no matter how you get there."

Nov. 28, 1989
Buck Johnson’s career night lifts the Rockets to a 110-104 win over the powerful L.A. Lakers. Johnson collects 20 points, seven assists and a career-high six steals to carry Houston to its third straight win. “He’s more confident than we’ve seen," Lakers coach Pat Riley says. “He’s a quick player we haven’t seen on a continual basis. He surprised us a bit tonight. You can’t give him the open jumper anymore."

Nov. 27, 1990
The Rockets jump on Hakeem Olajuwon's back and ride him to a 107-102 win over the L.A. Clippers. Hakeem finishes with 34 points, 20 rebounds, a career-high eight steals, four assists and three blocks. But it was his work down the stretch - 14 points, two boards, two blocks and two steals in the fourth quarter - that sealed the win. "The fourth quarter with the game on the line, I do like that," Olajuwon says. "That is the time when the game is the most fun."

Charles Barkley pulled down 12.2 boards per game in four seasons with the Rockets.
Stephen Dunn/Allsport
Nov. 26, 1996
The Rockets fall behind the Portland Trail Blazers by 19 points in the first period before rallying to force overtime, where Houston pulls out a 102-101 win. “I’ve been here for years, and we always do that," Mario Elie says. “We don’t come out strong and it makes me mad. We have to come out ready to play." The win gives the Rockets a 13-1 mark, tying Chicago for the best record in the league. Charles Barkley scores 30 points and pulls down 14 boards to lead the charge.

November 25
In the 27-year history of Compaq Center the Rockets have only played twice on November 25, with Houston dropping both contests. The Kansas City Kings defeated the Rockets 88-79 on Nov. 25, 1982 while a year later Houston lost to the Philadelphia 76ers by a final of 115-101.

Nov. 24, 1992
The unlikely backcourt combo of Kenny Smith and Kennard Winchester make key plays down the stretch to lift the Rockets to an 88-83 win over the L.A. Clippers. During a late 10-2 fourth quarter run by Houston, Smith and Winchester each nail a three-pointer and score five points apiece to seal the victory for the Rockets. The win is Houston’s sixth straight after opening the season with two losses.

Nov. 23, 1993
The Rockets become only the seventh team in NBA history to start a season with 10 or more consecutive wins with a 100-93 victory over the Chicago Bulls. A strong outing by Otis Thorpe (23 points, eight rebounds, five assists) helps Houston down the three-time defending NBA-champion Bulls, who were without Michael Jordan (retired) and Scottie Pippen (injured). “We don’t think of it as being unbeatable," Thorpe says. “But if you are talking game-by-game, then yes, we feel like we are going to win every time we step on the floor."

Nov. 22, 1994
Gunning for their 10th straight win to open the season, the Rockets are denied by Clyde Drexler and the Portland Trail Blazers, 102-94. Drexler, who would be traded to the Rockets less than three months later, paces the Blazers with 30 points. “No one expected us to go 82-0," says Houston guard Sam Cassell. “The streak was going to end at some point. But I guarantee you, there’s a lot of teams in this league that would like to be 9-1 right now."

Otis Thorpe ran the pick and roll to perfection during his seven seasons with the Rockets.
Allsport
Nov. 21, 1991
Playing without Hakeem Olajuwon, who was out with atrial fibrillation, the Rockets resort to their favorite play - the pick and roll - to down the Minnesota Timberwolves, 106-102. On three consecutive fourth quarter possessions, Otis Thorpe and Sleepy Floyd ran the play to perfection to thwart a T’Wolves rally and give Houston its third consecutive win.

Nov. 20, 1985
The Rockets held a block party and the Indiana Pacers were their guests. Swatting away 15 Indiana shots, Houston manhandles the Pacers, 126-97. Not surprisingly the Rockets frontcourt duo of Hakeem Olajuwon and Ralph Sampson did most of the damage, turning away a combined 10 Pacers shot attempts. “The Rockets were playing at 78 RPM’s and we were playing at 33," says Pacers coach George Irvine. “It was a 78 RPM game."

Nov. 19, 1989
After struggling over the first two weeks of the season, point guard Sleepy Floyd is benched by Rockets coach Don Chaney and replaced in the starting lineup by John Lucas. The move pays immediate dividends for the Rockets as Lucas guides Houston to a 132-94 blowout of the Miami Heat and Floyd comes off the bench in a shooting guard role to pour in 23 points. “As long as it works," Chaney says. “Sleepy has been really struggling. We made the move basically to help his shooting."

Nov. 18, 1995
After being listed as questionable with a knee injury prior to the game, Clyde Drexler goes out and scores 21 points to lead the Rockets to a 101-97 win over the Denver Nuggets. “I guess the older you are, the quicker you heal," Drexler says. “It felt good. Hopefully, it will feel good in the morning." Drexler had plenty of help in the scoring column, as Robert Horry (22 points), Hakeem Olajuwon (20) and Sam Cassell (19) all had key roles in the victory.

Kenny Smith averaged 12.6 points in six seasons with the Rockets.
Allsport
Nov. 17, 1994
Rudy Tomjanovich inserts Sam Cassell and Kenny Smith into the lineup together for the first time of the season and the duo leads the Rockets to a convincing 106-83 win over the Chicago Bulls. The win gives a Houston a perfect 8-0 mark on the season. Asked after the game to compare his early '90s Bulls championship teams to the Rockets, Bulls Head Coach Phil Jackson looked into his crystal ball. “I’d say they’re headed for a great year," he says.

Nov. 16, 1986
Ralph Sampson returns after missing 3+ weeks with a sprained ankle to lift the Rockets to a 134-106 win over the Cleveland Cavaliers. Guard Mitchell Wiggins was inspired by the return of the Rockets big man, as Wiggins poured in a career-high 30 points, including 19 in the third period when Houston put the game away. Sampson finished with 11 points, six assists, four rebounds in three blocks in 27 minutes.

Nov. 15, 1987
Rodney McCray drops in an off-balance shot at the buzzer with Seattle’s Xavier McDaniel draped all over him to give the Rockets a 108-106 win over the Sonics. McCray finishes with 24 points to share high-point honors with Hakeem Olajuwon. The win marks the fourth time on the young season the Rockets have come from behind to win in the fourth quarter. “We’ve had a couple of games this year that no matter how far we’ve gotten down we’ve found a way to win," McCray says.

Nov. 14, 1996
The Rockets overcome a nine-point deficit with 4:04 remaining to steal a 90-88 win from the Indiana Pacers behind Hakeem Olajuwon’s late heroics. Olajuwon dropped in a patented 12-foot baseline Dream Shake with 20 seconds left to give Houston a two-point lead, then blocked a Reggie Miller shot attempt at the final buzzer to preserve the win. “It was a wonderful win," Olajuwon says, “because they had us."

Rodney McCray spent five seasons with the Rockets before being dealt to the Kings in 1988.
Stephen Dunn /Allsport
Nov. 13, 1988
Rodney McCray returns to Compaq Center with his new Sacramento Kings teammates for the first time since being traded by the Rockets and racks up a career-high 29 points and 12 rebounds. Houston hangs on for the win as Hakeem Olajuwon scores 34 points in the 129-127 victory. “It made me feel good the way they introduced me," says McCray, who received a standing ovation from the Rockets crowd. “The folks here showed they appreciated the things I did here for five years."

Nov. 12, 1985
The Rockets end the Denver Nuggets' 10-month stay atop the Midwest Division with a 127-119 victory, giving Houston a half-game lead over Denver in the division standings. Lewis Lloyd paces the Rockets with 26 points while Ralph Sampson adds 24 points and 12 rebounds. “We trailed Denver for a year and two months," says Rockets Head Coach John Lucas. “Now let’s see how it feels for them to trail us, at least for a day or two."

Nov. 11, 1990
Hakeem Olajuwon dominates the Utah Jazz to the tune of 31 points, 21 rebounds, five assists and seven blocks in a 110-90 Rockets victory. Olajuwon gives the Compaq Center crowd a scare midway through the fourth period when he turns an ankle after blocking a shot with the Rockets holding just a three-point lead. He rolled on the court in agony for a few moments before returning to help Houston dust off the Jazz with a game-ending 26-9 run.

Nov. 10, 1988
Hakeem Olajuwon records 35 points and 19 rebounds as the Rockets defeat the Utah Jazz 106-99 in a game featuring an unlikely three-pointer from Derrick Chievous that sealed the win for Houston. With the Rockets holding a 93-92 lead with 3:41 remaining, Chievous lets fly with a pass from behind the three-point line intended as a lob for Olajuwon. The ball instead hits nothing but net and the Rockets would never trail again.

Nov. 9, 1996
The Rockets down the Utah Jazz 91-85 to run their mark to 6-0. The Big 3 of Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler and Charles Barkley combine for 59 points and 37 rebounds to lead Houston to another win, which has become a November habit for Houston over the past few seasons. “I’m a Sagittarius," says Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich when explaining his team’s 41-6 record in November during his tenure. His birthday is November 24.

Double and triple teams had no effect on Hakeem Olajuwon.
Allsport
Nov. 8, 1986
The Sacramento Kings knew that no one man could stop Hakeem Olajuwon, so they tried sending three guys at him each time he touched the ball. It still didn’t work. Hakeem went over, through and around the Kings defense for 25 points, 21 rebounds, six assists, four steals and four blocked shots in the Rockets' 102-90 win. “In the last six minutes, Hakeem just took over the game," Kings coach Phil Johnson says.

Nov. 7, 1985
With Rockets owner Charlie Thomas meeting with the agent for free agent guard Norm Nixon the Rockets go out and make a statement that they don’t need him, rolling to a 137-115 win over the L.A. Clippers. Ralph Sampson leads the way for Houston, which moved to 4-0 at home with the win, with 22 points and 12 rebounds. The Rockets later determined they couldn’t sign Nixon because they were already at the NBA salary cap of $4.2 million.

Nov. 6, 1990
Kenny Smith scores a career-high 35 points and hands out 10 assists to lead the Rockets to a wild 145-135 win over the Denver Nuggets. Three other Houston players top 20 points on the evening, led by Otis Thorpe’s 21 points and 22 boards. Vernon Maxwell adds 23 points and Hakeem Olajuwon pours in 24 points, grabs 13 rebounds and dishes seven assists before fouling out with 4:49 to play.

Nov. 5, 1991
Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler would eventually become teammates and help lead the Rockets to an NBA championship. But on this night they were on opposing sides. Olajuwon’s Rockets led Drexler’s Portland Trail Blazers 100-98 with less than 30 seconds remaining when Drexler drove the lane for the potential game-tying bucket. He didn’t see Olajuwon, who swatted away the shot to teammate Kenny Smith, leading to a jumper on the other end that sealed the win for Houston.

Nov. 4, 1994
Maybe the Rockets should petition the NBA to open their season against the Nets every year. Houston began each of its title runs in 1994 and 1995 with wins over New Jersey at Compaq Center. After a pregame celebration in which the Rockets received their 1994 NBA championship rings, Hakeem Olajuwon collects 19 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots to help Houston successfully commence another championship season with a 90-86 victory over the Nets.

Sam Cassell hit some big shots during his Rockets playing days.
Allsport
Nov. 3, 1995
The Rockets begin defense of their back-to-back NBA titles with a 110-92 season-opening victory over the Golden State Warriors behind 23 points from Sam Cassell. With Houston leading by just two points early in the fourth quarter, Cassell goes on a 14-point blitz, including three 3-pointers, in a 19-1 run that gives the Rockets a 100-80 lead. “To have this one slip away would have put a damper on the end of our second championship," Rockets Head Coach Rudy Tomjanovich says.

Nov. 2, 1975
After playing home games in the Astrohall, Astrodome and Hofheinz Pavilion, and in such cities as San Antonio, Waco and El Paso, the Rockets finally get a place to call their own. Houston wins the first game in The Summit (now Compaq Center) 104-89 over Milwaukee as Rudy Tomjanovich scores 24 points in front of 7,142 people.

Nov. 1, 1996
The Rockets win their eighth consecutive season opener as they roll past the Sacramento Kings 96-85 behind Clyde Drexler, who narrowly misses becoming the fifth player in NBA history to record a quadruple-double. Drexler finishes his big evening with 25 points, 10 rebounds, 10 steals and nine assists. Teammate Hakeem Olajuwon, who has one of the other four quadruple-doubles, chipped in 17 points and 13 rebounds.

Oct. 31, 1997
The Rockets opened the 1997-98 season on Halloween night against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Kevin Willis started at the power forward slot in place of Charles Barkley, who had hinted of retirement prior to the game, and posted a game-high 20 points and nine boards in leading the Rockets to a 94-86 win. “Kevin was phenomenal," says Clyde Drexler, who added 17 points of his own. “I think Kevin likes that starting spot."