History and Connections Between Lakers and Rockets

February 21, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) controls the ball against Houston Rockets guard James Harden (13) during the first half at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers have advanced to the second round of the playoffs for the first time since 2012. The West’s #1 seed will face the Houston Rockets, in the second round. Rockets knocked off the OKC Thunder in 7 games to advance to the second round for the 4th consecutive season.

Playoffs History

Game 1 will be the 36th playoff game all-time between these teams and the 9th playoff series and the first since 2009.

  • Lakers have won 5 of 8 playoff series vs Rockets
  • Lakers are 20-15 overall in playoff games
  • Most recent series was 2009 West Semis (Lakers won in 7)
  • 6 first round series total (5 times between 1990- 2004). Lakers won 4 of those 5 and 4 of 6 overall.
  • West Finals in 1986 – Rockets won 4-1 to advance to their second ever NBA Finals (they would lose in 6 games to the Celtics).

2009 West Semifinals

In 2009, Lakers beat the Rockets in 7 games to advance to the West Finals. That Lakers team, led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, went on to win the NBA title. Ironically, that season ended in Orlando (Lakers beat Magic in 5 games), which is where the 2020 season will end.

Bryant and Gasol both played over 37 mpg – Kobe average 27.4 ppg, Gasol averaged 18.6 ppg, 12.0 rpg.

Yao Ming played ust 3 games and averaged 19.7 ppg and 11.3 rpg, before injuring his foot, an injury that would essentially end his career (he played just 5 more games). Rockets starting 5 (outside of Yao) was Aaron Brooks (18 ppg), Metta World Peace, Luis Scola, Shane Battier, and Chuck Hayes.

Connections

Mike D’antoni

Rockets head coach Mike D’antoni has been with the Rockets since 2016. Before that, he coached the Lakers for two seasons between 2012-2014. Lakers made the playoffs in 2013, but were swept in the first round by the Spurs, after Kobe Bryant sat out the series with a torn Achilles. D’antoni was 67-87 in those two years.

Dwight Howard

Without Kobe, Dwight was the star of that 2013 playoff team. In the summer of 2012, Lakers acquired Howard in a 4-team deal that involved Nikola Vucevic going to Magic, Andre Iguodala going to Nuggets, among other pieces. Howard signed as a free agent with the Rockets in the summer of 2013 and finally made his way back to the Lakers in 2019.

Rudy Tomjanovich

Between 1991-1998, only two teams won the NBA title – Bulls (coached by Lakers legend Phil Jackson) and Rockets. Rockets were coached by Rudy Tomjanovich, who led them to back-to-back titles in 1994 and 1995, during Michael Jordan’s first retirement. Tomjanovich coached the Rockets from 1991-2003. He resigned in 2003, after being diagnosed with bladder cancer, but following a quick recovery, returned to coaching in 2004 to take the Lakers job, replacing Phil Jackson. Medical issues led to his resignation after 41 games.

Del Harris

Coached Rockets from 1979-1983 and led the Rockets to their first NBA Finals appearance in 1981 (lost to Celtics). He later coached the Lakers from 1994-1999, and was Kobe’s first NBA coach.

Tex Winter

Winter was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. He was a college head coach from 1951-1983, with one two year hiatus in there. He coached the Rockets for two seasons from 1971-1973. Rockets were 51-78 during that time. He ended his basketball career as Phil Jackson’s lead assistant, first with the Bulls and then with the Lakers (1999-2008).

Mike is an alum of the University of Cincinnati and the ultimate sports nerd.

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