Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Tue Dec 28 2021 At 7:00 PM

Toyota Center - TX

1510 Polk Street
Houston, Texas 77002

Toyota Center - TX
Houston, TX, 77002

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HOUSTON ROCKETS

1967 as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego. In 1971, the Rockets relocated to Houston. The Rockets won only 15 games inThe Houston Rockets are an American professional basketball team based in Houston. The Rockets compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member team of the league's Western Conference Southwest Division. The team plays its home games at the Toyota Center, located in Downtown Houston. Throughout its history, Houston has won two NBA championships and four Western Conference titles. It was established in 1967 as the San Diego Rockets, an expansion team originally based in San Diego. In 1971, the Rockets relocated to Houston. The Rockets won only 15 games in their debut season as a franchise in 1967. In the 1968 NBA draft, the Rockets were awarded the first overall pick and selected power forward Elvin Hayes, who would lead the team to its first playoff appearance in his rookie season. The Rockets did not finish a season with a winning record for almost a decade until the 1976–77 season, when they traded for All-Star center Moses Malone. Malone went on to win the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award twice while playing with the Rockets and led Houston to the Eastern Conference Finals in his first year with the team. During the 1980–81 season, the Rockets finished the regular season with a 40–42 record but still made the playoffs. Led by Malone, the Rockets reached their first NBA Finals in 1981, becoming only the second team in NBA history to do so with a losing record. They would lose in six games to the 62–20 Boston Celtics, led by Larry Bird, Robert Parish, and future Rockets head coach Kevin McHale. As of 2021, the 1980–81 Rockets are the last team since the 1954–55 Minneapolis Lakers to make it all the way to the NBA Finals with a losing record. In the 1984 NBA draft, once again with the first overall pick, the Rockets drafted center Hakeem Olajuwon, who would become the cornerstone of the most successful period in franchise history. Paired with 7 feet 4 inches (2.24 m) Ralph Sampson, they formed one of the tallest front courts in the NBA. Nicknamed the "Twin Towers", they led the team to the 1986 NBA Finals—the second NBA Finals appearance in franchise history—where Houston was again defeated by Larry Bird and the 67-win Boston Celtics. The Rockets continued to reach the playoffs throughout the 1980s, but failed to advance past the first round for several years following a second-round defeat to the Seattle SuperSonics in 1987. Rudy Tomjanovich took over as head coach midway through the 1991–92 season, ushering in the most successful period in franchise history. Led by Olajuwon, the Rockets dominated the 1993–94 season, setting a franchise record 58 wins and went to the 1994 NBA Finals—the third NBA Finals appearance in franchise history—and won the franchise's first championship against Patrick Ewing and the New York Knicks. During the following season, reinforced by another All-Star, Clyde Drexler, the Rockets—in their fourth NBA Finals appearance in franchise history—repeated as champions with a four-game sweep of the Orlando Magic, who were led by a young Shaquille O'Neal and Penny Hardaway. Houston, which finished the season with a 47–35 record and was seeded sixth in the Western Conference during the 1995 playoffs, became the lowest-seeded team in NBA history to win the title. The Rockets acquired all-star power forward Charles Barkley in 1996, but the presence of three of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all-time (Olajuwon, Drexler, and Barkley) was not enough to propel Houston past the Western Conference Finals. Each one of the aging trio had left the team by 2001. The Rockets of the early 2000s, led by superstars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, followed the trend of consistent regular-season respectability followed by playoff underachievement as both players struggled with injuries. After Yao's early retirement in 2011, the Rockets entered a period of rebuilding, completely dismantling and retooling their roster. The acquisition of franchise player James Harden in 2012 launched the Rockets back into perennial championship contention throughout the rest of the 2010s, with zero losing seasons in Harden's nine-season tenure with the team. Harden broke countless franchise and NBA records while on the team, winning three consecutive scoring titles between 2018 and 2020, and leading the team to two Western Conference Finals appearances (both times losing to the Golden State Warriors). Following the 2019–20 season, head coach Mike D'Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey left the organization. In January 2021, Harden was traded to the Brooklyn Nets in a four-team deal. Moses Malone, Hakeem Olajuwon, and James Harden have been named the NBA's MVPs while playing for the Rockets, for a total of four MVP awards. The Rockets, when piloted by Morey, have been renowned for popularizing the use of advanced statistical analytics (similar to sabermetrics in baseball) in player acquisitions and style of play.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Lakers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA)The Los Angeles Lakers are an American professional basketball team based in Los Angeles. The Lakers compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA) as a member of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division. The Lakers play their home games at Staples Center, an arena shared with the NBA's Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Sparks of the Women's National Basketball Association, and the Los Angeles Kings of the National Hockey League. The Lakers are one of the most successful teams in the history of the NBA, and have won 17 NBA championships, tied with the Boston Celtics for the most in NBA history.The franchise began with the 1947 purchase of a disbanded team, the Detroit Gems of the National Basketball League (NBL). The new team began playing in Minneapolis, Minnesota, calling themselves the Minneapolis Lakers. Initially a member of the NBL, the Lakers won the 1948 NBL championship before joining the rival Basketball Association of America, where they would win five of the next six championships, led by star George Mikan. After struggling financially in the late 1950s following Mikan's retirement, they relocated to Los Angeles before the 1960–61 season. Led by Hall of Famers Elgin Baylor and Jerry West, Los Angeles made the NBA Finals six times in the 1960s, but lost every series to the Celtics, beginning their long and storied rivalry. In 1968, the Lakers acquired four-time NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Wilt Chamberlain, and won their sixth NBA title—and first in Los Angeles—in 1972, led by new head coach Bill Sharman. After the retirement of West and Chamberlain, the team traded for superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, who won multiple MVP awards with the Lakers. While the team was unable to advance to the Finals in the late 1970s, two momentous changes came in 1979 that would inaugurate a new golden era for the franchise. First, Jerry Buss purchased the Lakers, and as the team's owner, pioneered a vision of basketball games as entertainment spectacles as well as sporting events. Second, the Lakers drafted Magic Johnson first overall in the 1979 NBA draft. The combination of Johnson, a passing prodigy, and Abdul-Jabbar provided the Lakers with two superstars to anchor their roster. The additions of head coach Pat Riley in 1981, and James Worthy through the 1982 NBA draft, established the Lakers as an NBA powerhouse in the 1980s. The team was nicknamed the "Showtime Lakers" due to its fast break, transition offense facilitated by Johnson. The team won five championships in a nine-year span, including several marquee Finals matchups against its archrival, the Celtics. After Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, and Worthy retired, the team struggled in the 1990s until it drafted Kobe Bryant and signed Shaquille O'Neal in 1996. The superstar duo, along with Hall of Fame coach Phil Jackson, led the Lakers to three consecutive championships between 2000 to 2002, securing the franchise's second "three-peat." After the team lost in the 2004 NBA Finals, the "Shaq-and-Kobe" era ended when the Lakers traded away O'Neal. It was not until the Lakers traded for Pau Gasol that Bryant and Jackson returned to the NBA Finals, winning two more titles in 2009 and 2010. The team failed to regain its former glory during the rest of the decade, and Bryant retired in 2016. The Lakers worked on rebuilding their team with young players such as Julius Randle, Jordan Clarkson, D'Angelo Russell, Larry Nance Jr., Brandon Ingram, Ivica Zubac, Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Josh Hart. However, many of these players departed after only a few years, with multiple leaving during 2018 to 2019.In 2020, the Lakers—led by LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and coach Frank Vogel—secured their 17th championship, tying the Celtics for the most titles in NBA history.The Lakers hold the record for NBA's longest winning streak, 33 straight games, set during the 1971–72 season. Twenty-six Hall of Famers have played for Los Angeles, while four have coached the team. Four Lakers—Abdul-Jabbar, Johnson, O'Neal, and Bryant—have won the NBA MVP Award for a total of eight awards.

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