Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns

Houston Rockets vs. Phoenix Suns

Tue Dec 13 2022 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-foot-4-inch (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 then-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, which was 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). Prior to the 2020–21 season, head coach Mike D'Antoni and general manager Daryl Morey left the organization, prompting Harden to seek a trade. He was traded to the Brooklyn Nets which started a rebuilding period. 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, were been renowned for popularizing the use of advanced statistical analytics (similar to sabermetrics in baseball) in player acquisitions and style of play.

PHOENIX SUNS

The Phoenix Suns are an American professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), asThe Phoenix Suns are an American professional basketball team based in Phoenix, Arizona. They compete in the National Basketball Association (NBA), as a member of the league's Western Conference Pacific Division. The Suns are the only team in their division not to be based in California, and play their home games at the Footprint Center. The Suns are one of four major league sports teams based in the Phoenix area, but are the only one to bill themselves as representing the city (the other teams - the Cardinals, Coyotes, and Diamondbacks - all bill themselves as representing the state of Arizona). The franchise began play in 1968 as an expansion team, and their early years were shrouded in mediocrity, but their fortunes changed in the 1970s after partnering Dick Van Arsdale and Alvan Adams with Paul Westphal; the team reached the 1976 NBA Finals, in what is considered to be one of the biggest upsets in NBA history. However, after failing to capture a championship, the Suns would rebuild around Walter Davis for a majority of the 1980s, until the acquisition of Kevin Johnson in 1988. Under Johnson, and after trading for perennial NBA All-Star Charles Barkley, and combined with the output of Tom Chambers and Dan Majerle, the Suns reached the playoffs for a franchise-record thirteen consecutive appearances and remained a regular title contender throughout the 1990s, and reached the 1993 NBA Finals. However, the team would again fail to win a championship, and entered into another period of mediocrity until the early part of the 2000s. In 2004, the Suns signed free agent Steve Nash (who had blossomed for the Dallas Mavericks after being traded from Phoenix six years earlier), and returned into playoff contention. With Nash, Shawn Marion, and Amar'e Stoudemire, and under head coach Mike D'Antoni, the Suns became renowned worldwide for their quick, dynamic offense, which led them to tie a franchise record in wins in the 2004–05 season. Two more top two Conference placements followed, but the Suns again failed to attain an NBA championship, and were forced into another rebuild. After ten consecutive seasons without a playoff berth, the Suns reached the 2021 NBA Finals after acquiring Chris Paul, forming a quartet with their young core of Devin Booker, Deandre Ayton and Mikal Bridges. The Suns own the NBA's fifth-best all-time winning percentage, and have the second highest winning percentage of any team to have never won an NBA championship. 11 Hall of Famers have played for Phoenix, while two — Barkley and Nash — won NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) while playing for the team.

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