1995 NBA Championship Series – Rockets and Magic


By Ron Griffitts - Contributing Columnist



The defending champion Houston Rockets 47-35 coached by Rudy Tomjanovich and with executive Bob Weinhauer met the Orlando Magic 57-25, an expansion team, coached by Larry Brown, making their first finals’ appearance.

The Rockets were led by Hakeem Olajuwon 27.8 points per game, 10.8 rebounds per game, Clyde Drexler who they had traded Otis Thorpe for from Portland, 21.4 ppg, 4.4 assists per game, Robert Horry 10,2 ppg, Vernon Maxwell 13.3 ppg, Kenny Smith 10.2 ppg and Sam Cassell 4.9 apg.

Drexler was reunited with Olajuwon with whom he played together at the University of Houston in his collegedays.

The Magic were led by Shaquille O’ Neal 29.3 ppg, 11.4 rpg who as a rookiehad taken the league by storm, Anfernee Hardaway 20.9 ppg, 7.2 apg, Horace Grant signed as free agent from the Chicago Bulls, 12.8 ppg, 9.7 rpg, Nick Anderson 15.8 ppg, Dennis Scott 12.9 ppg and Brain Shaw with 5.2 apg.

The seriesfeatured two of the dominant centers in the NBA in the 32 year old Olajuwon for Houston and 22 year old Shaquille O’ Neal of the Orlando Magic.

Game one was played in Orlando Arena in the first finals game ever played in Florida. It was a close game tied after regulation when Houston made up a seven point deficit in the fourth quarter to tie the game at 110-110. Then according to Wikipedia with three seconds left Olajuwon tipped in a Clyde Drexler field goal attempt for a 120-118 Houston win to take a 1-0 lead in the series.

Olajuwon led the Rockets with 31 points, Drexlerhad 23 points and 11 rebounds and Kenny Smith added 23 points. Shaquille O’ Neal had 26 points and 16 rebounds, Horace Grant had 15 points and 16 rebounds, Anfernee Hardaway had 26 points and Nick Anderson had 22 points and 11 assists.

Game two in Orlando was not as close as the Rockets got out to a 63-41 halftime lead and withstood the Magic’s 65 second half points to win 117-106 and take a twogames to none lead in the series.

Olajuwon had 34 points, and 11 rebounds, Robert Horry had 10 rebounds and Clyde Drexler added 23 points for the Rockets.

Shaq led Orlando with 33 points, 7 assists and 12 rebounds while Anfernee Hardaway had 32 points and Horace Grant contributed 10 rebounds as the series moved to Houston for game three.

Game three was tied after three quarters 75-75 but the Rockets outscored Orlando 31-28 in the fourth quarter for a 106-103 victory to go up three games to none.

Shaquille O’Neal led Orlando with 28 points and 10 rebounds, Anfernee Hardaway added 19 points and 14 assists and Horace Grant contributed 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Olajuwon led Houston 32 points and 14 rebounds, Clyde Drexler had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Robert Horry added 20 points for the winners.

Game four was close through three quarters as Houston led 77-76 but outscored Orlando 36-25 in the fourth quarter for a 113-101to win the game and their second consecutive NBA title.

Olajuwon led with 35 points and 15 rebounds, Robert Horry had 21 points and 13 assists and Mario Elie had 21 points.

Shaquille O’Neal paced the Magic with 25 points and 12 rebounds, Anfernee Hardaway had 25 points and Horace Grant had12 rebounds.

Hakeem Olajuwon won his second finals MVP award and the Rockets have not returned to the NBA finals and while Orlando would not return to the finals, Shaquille O’Neal would with the Lakers in 2000.

Micheal Jordan ended his retirement half through that season and in the next three years the Bulls would resume their mastery of the NBA.

For Drexler and Olajuwon it was their first title won together as they lost in the NCAAA championship game in both 1983 and 1984.

For Olajuwon it was a long way from his birthplace in Lagos, Nigeria to win two NBA titles and was the all-time blocks leader with 3830 when he retired from the NBA.

Basketball-reference.com, YouTube and Wikipedia were used as references for this article.

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By Ron Griffitts

Contributing Columnist

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate

Ron Griffitts a contributing columnist for the Daily Advocate