The Game: 1995 Finals, Game 1
The Series Situation: Houston Rockets and Orlando Magic tied, 0-0
The Play: Down by three points, Mario Elie inbounds to Kenny Smith, who dribbles twice to the top of the key, pump-fakes Penny Hardaway and leans left to bury a 3-pointer with 1.6 seconds left to tie game and force overtime.
The Significance: Smith’s shot enabled the Houston Rockets to complete a comeback from a 20-point hole in the first half and take the memorable Game 1 into overtime. It is sometimes overlooked as one of the top clutch plays in NBA Finals history because of what preceded it:
The Orlando Magic’s Nick Anderson went to the foul line twice in the last 10.6 seconds of regulation time and missed four consecutive free throws, any one of which could have iced the win. With the door left open, Smith capped the night of his career with his seventh 3-pointer of the game — then a Finals record.
The “Clutch City” Rockets delivered again in OT when Clyde Drexler’s missed finger roll was tipped in off the glass by Hakeem Olajuwon with 0.3 seconds left to give the Rockets a 120-118 win. It began Houston’s march to a 4-0 series sweep and their second consecutive championship. Olajuwon thoroughly outplayed a young Shaquille O’Neal to be named Finals MVP for the second year in a row.
— From NBA.com Staff
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