Houston Rockets

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Houston Rockets

Founded as the San Diego Rockets in 1967, the team encountered four seasons of defeat. By 1971, Houston became the Rockets’ new home. Future Hall of Famers Elvin Hayes, Calvin Murphy, and Rudy Tomjanovich spearheaded the early teams.

The Moses Malone Era

The team experienced a major shift in the 1976–77 season with the arrival of elite center Moses Malone, leading the Rockets to their first winning season and a journey to the conference finals.

Despite a modest record in the 1980–81 season, the Rockets saw an astonishing playoff run, landing a spot in the NBA finals but ultimately falling to the Boston Celtics. However, Malone’s 1982 departure saw the team’s performance decline.

The Emergence of Olajuwon and Back-to-Back Championships

1984 saw the drafting of another star: Hakeem Olajuwon. His synergy with Ralph Sampson guided the Rockets to the 1986 NBA finals, although a win remained elusive. While the 1980s witnessed postseason qualifications, further advancement proved challenging. Yet, the 1991–92 season marked a turning point under Tomjanovich’s leadership.

The Rockets clinched NBA titles in 1993–94 and 1994–95 with outstanding performances from Olajuwon, Sam Cassell, Robert Horry, and Clyde Drexler.

Star-Studded Era with No Rings

Despite adding NBA legends like Charles Barkley, Drexler, and Olajuwon in 1996, Western Conference finals success remained out of reach. By 2001, this aging trio had departed, making way for superstars Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming.

While these stars brought regular-season credibility, playoffs became challenging, particularly with McGrady’s 2010 trade and Yao’s 2011 retirement.

Rebuilding and the Statistical Approach

The team’s rebuilding era stood out due to its reliance on advanced statistical analyses for player acquisitions. This unique approach bore fruit, with the Rockets clinching a 2012–13 playoff spot, boasting the NBA’s youngest roster, led by the exceptional James Harden.

With Dwight Howard’s addition, the Rockets bettered their record, reaching the playoffs in 2014-15 but were halted by the Golden State Warriors.

Challenges continued, leading to coaching changes, yet the Rockets still showcased their flair by setting an NBA record for three-point shots in the 2016–17 season.

Rise with Paul and Playoff Hurdles

The subsequent off-season witnessed the arrival of star point guard Chris Paul. With his help, the Rockets soared in 2017-18, setting franchise and league records. The team made it to the conference finals, but Paul’s unfortunate injury in game five proved costly, giving the Warriors a series win.

Despite initial struggles, the 2018-19 season saw the Rockets enter the playoffs with vigor. Yet, history repeated itself, with the Warriors eliminating them in the conference semifinals.


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