Top Moments: Ralph Sampson's game-winner stuns Lakers in 1986 West finals
Ralph Sampson's off-balance jumper in Game 5 sends the Rockets to their second Finals in six seasons.
From NBA.com Staff
NBA.com takes a look back at the top moments that define the history of the NBA.
Perhaps the most famous Twin Towers in NBA history played for the Houston Rockets in the 1980s, when 7-footer Hakeem Olajuwon paired with 7-foot-4 Ralph Sampson on the Rockets’ front line. Both were All-Stars, and in 1986 they led Houston to a berth in the NBA Finals.
En route to the Finals, the Rockets beat Sacramento and Denver before meeting the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals.
Houston came into the series as a distinct underdog to a Laker team led by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and James Worthy. Yet Los Angeles was able to take only one game from the surprising Rockets.
Los Angeles attempted to extend the series with a strong effort in Game 5. But with the score tied in the closing seconds, Sampson got the ball to the left of the lane and nailed a twisting jumper that bounced up off the rim and in at the buzzer for a 114-112 victory that eliminated the Lakers 4-1.
With the win the Rockets brought an end to the Lakers’ four-year dominance of the Western Conference. But Houston was no match for the Boston Celtics in The Finals, bowing out in six games.