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Rockets–Spurs rivalry

Houston Rockets-San Antonio Spurs
1st Meeting November 27, 1976
Last Meeting December 28, 2014
Next Meeting April 8, 2015
Number of Meetings (Including Postseason) 194
Overall Series 103–91 San Antonio
Post Season History
Post Season Meetings 10–6 Houston
1980 Eastern Conference First Round Rockets won, 2-1
1981 Western Conference Semifinals Rockets won, 4-3
1995 Western Conference Finals Rockets won, 4-2

The Rockets–Spurs rivalry is a rivalry between the Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs. It is also known as the I-10 Rivalry since San Antonio and Houston lie on Interstate 10, it is one of the three National Basketball Association rivalries between teams from Texas, the others featuring Houston and San Antonio versus the Dallas Mavericks.


The rivalry began in 1976 when the Spurs moved from the American Basketball Association along with the Denver Nuggets, New York Nets, and Indiana Pacers. The Rockets and Spurs competed for the division title, with the Rockets winning it first in 1977 and the Spurs in 1978 and 1979. In 1980, they met in the playoffs for the first time as the Rockets led by Moses Malone and Calvin Murphy beat the Spurs led by George Gervin and James Silas 2-1. The rivalry grew intense as both teams moved from the East to the West. They met again in 1981, this time in the second round. The Spurs had home-court advantage, and were heavily favored, winning the Midwest Division Title and the Rockets only 40-42. The Rockets and Spurs fought to the bitter end before the Rockets held on to win Game 7 capped by Murphy's 42 points. The Rockets would advance to the Finals in a losing cause to the Boston Celtics. The rivalry sparkled in 1995 when the sixth-seeded Rockets led by Hakeem Olajuwon beat the top-seeded Spurs led by MVP David Robinson.

Even after Olajuwon was traded to the Toronto Raptors in 2001, he recalled the fond memories he had of playing against his old San Antonio rival.

"I think when I walk on to that court (at the Alamodome), maybe then it might hit me, all the games I played against San Antonio and the great rivalry we had,...I'm pretty sure David will be very surprised to see me wearing a new uniform. I'm sure it's going to be strange, but at the same time it will be very special. The memories, the competition, the rivalry. I am very much looking forward to it."

— Olajuwon, [1]

Notable games

1981 NBA Playoffs

In a classic Game 7, the 40-42 Rockets looked to upset the 52-30 Spurs to advance to the Western Conference Finals. Capped by Calvin Murphy's 42 points, the Rockets defeated the Spurs to advance to the Conference Finals and defeated the likewise 40-42 Kansas City Kings, and moved on to the 1981 NBA Finals where they were defeated by the Celtics. The Spurs waited another 18 years to see a Finals berth and Title.

1995 Playoffs

In 1995, the Rockets looked to win their second straight NBA championship. Despite a slow start, the 6th-seeded Rockets (47-35) managed to get through their first opponent, the 3rd-seeded Utah Jazz (60-22) 3-2, and the 2nd-seeded Phoenix Suns (59-23) 4-3. The Rockets would encounter the top seeded Spurs waiting (62-20) for them in the Conference Finals. The Spurs had swept their first round opponent, the Denver Nuggets (41-41) before defeating the Los Angeles Lakers (48-34) in 6 games.

Olajuwon displayed perhaps the most impressive moments of his career when the Rockets faced the San Antonio Spurs in the Conference Finals. Recently crowned league MVP Robinson was outplayed by Olajuwon, 35–24 PPG. When asked later what a team could do to "solve" Olajuwon, Robinson told LIFE magazine: "Hakeem? You don't solve Hakeem."[2] The Rockets won every road game that series and beat the Spurs 4-2. The Rockets swept the Orlando Magic in the NBA Finals 4-0, and secured their second Championship. Thus far, the Rockets had won a division title, conference title and Championship before their rivals.

2004 Rockets comeback

It took place on December 9, 2004, after a long fought game in which the Spurs had mostly led (up by 10 points under a minute left) and the Rockets crowd beginning to boo their own team; Tracy McGrady scored 13 points in 35 seconds, including a 3 with 1.7 seconds left to give the Rockets an 81-80 comeback win. The game ended a 7-game losing streak against the Spurs for Houston.[3]

2008 Spurs comeback

In 2008, the teams would meet for the first match on November 14 at the AT&T Center in San Antonio. The Spurs began the 2008 season with their worst record in franchise history (2-4), as a result of an injury to Manu Ginóbili at the 2008 Summer Olympics, and a sprained ankle to Tony Parker early in the season.[4] This was the first regular season game in which the newly acquired Ron Artest along with Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming would face San Antonio. The Rockets led most of the game, going up by as many as 14 with 7 minutes left.[5] Despite missing more than 40 points in scoring from their two injured guards, two time MVP Tim Duncan (22 pts) and rookie George Hill (17 pts) led the Spurs' comeback. They finally took the lead (76-75) with 59 seconds left on a hook shot by Duncan.[5] He blocked a layup that would have given the Rockets the lead with less than 2 seconds left. After the Spurs made 1 of 2 free throws, the Rockets got one last chance to win, but Artest missed a 3 as time expired, giving San Antonio a 77-75 victory.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Zicarelli, Frank (December 12, 2001). "OLAJUWON'S RETURN HOME A DREAM TRIP". The Toronto Sun. 
  2. ^ Hakeem Olajuwon, (Accessed January 3, 2007.)
  3. ^ McGrady's late 3-pointer beats clock, Spurs, China Daily. October 12, 2004.
  4. ^ "Duncan scores 22 points, leads the Spurs to another home victory". November 14, 2008. 
  5. ^ a b c Monroe, Mike (November 14, 2008). "Late surge propels Spurs past Rockets". San Antonio Express News.