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Houston Rockets

This Date in NBA History (May 17): Houston Rockets complete comeback from 3-1 series deficit with Game 7 win vs. Clippers in 2015 & more

On May 17th in 2015, the Houston Rockets recorded a 113-110 win at the Toyota Center in Game 7 of their Conference Semifinals against the Los Angeles Clippers.

In doing so, they became the ninth team (at that time) in NBA history and the first since the Phoenix Suns in 2006 (first round vs. the Lakers) to come back from a 3-1 series deficit.

The team's MVP candidate James Harden struggled with his shooting (7-of-20 FG; 2-of-7 3PT) but he was still the team's biggest contributor in this crucial game. In 43 minutes, he finished with 31 points, eight assists, seven rebounds, and three steals.

He did receive plenty of help from a few other starters.

Dwight Howard, in 32 minutes, finished with 16 points, 15 rebounds, two assists, and two steals while Josh Smith scored 15 points in 22 minutes. Trevor Ariza did a little bit of everything to finish with 22 points, seven rebounds, three assists, and two steals.

The game was tied just twice and the Rockets led all of this game, holding their biggest lead of 20 points early in the fourth quarter.

In this crucial contest, the Clippers were led by their All-Star duo of Chris Paul and Blake Griffin. They combined for 53 points, 16 rebounds, and 16 assists but it wasn't enough as the Los Angeles franchise had probably lost the series a couple of days earlier in Game 6.

On May 14th in Game 6 at the Staples Center, the Rockets were down by their largest deficit of 19 (89-70) with 2:34 minutes to go in the third quarter. Not to mention the fact that they were up 3-2 in the series. Then, Josh Smith and reserve Corey Brewer carried the Rockets on a 49-18 run that sealed the game and forced a Game 7.

Brewer scored 15 of his 19 points and Smith scored 14 of his 19 in the fourth quarter, where the Rockets outscored the Clippers 40-15 to eventually win the game 119-107.

Other notable events on May 17th

  • In 1979, Jack Sikma recorded a double-double of 33 points and 11 rebounds in a 114-110 Game 7 win for the Seattle SuperSonics against the Phoenix Suns. The win set up a Finals rematch against the Washington Bullets and this time, the SuperSonics avenged the 1978 Finals loss by winning the 1979 title in five games.
  • In 1988, John Stockton tied Magic Johnson's NBA Playoffs record for assists in a single game with 24 against the Los Angeles Lakers.
  • In 1993, Pat Riley beat out Rudy Tomjanovich by one vote to win the 1993 Coach of the Year Award. At that time, he was the fifth coach to win the award twice and only the second to win it three times. He later won a third in 1997, making all of Riley's three Coach of the Year awards with different teams - 1990 (Lakers), 1993 (Knicks), 1997 (Heat).
  • In 1995, Jason Kidd of the Dallas Mavericks and Grant Hill of the Detroit Pistons were named co-winners of the Rookie of the Year Award. It was only the second time in NBA history and the first time since 1971 that the Eddie Gottlieb Trophy was shared.

Game-winning buzzer-beater on May 17th

Michael Jordan vs. Cleveland Cavaliers in 1993

Notable playoff eliminations on May 17th

  • In 2009, the Orlando Magic eliminated the Boston Celtics - the reigning NBA Champions - in the Conference Semifinals by winning Game 7, 101-82. Thus, booking the franchise's third Conference Finals appearance and the first since 1996.
  • In 1992, the Chicago Bulls won Game 7, 110-81 and eliminated the New York Knicks in the Conference Semifinals. It is only the second Game 7 that Jordan and the Bulls have played during their championships years.

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