Flashback: The Rockets Win Game 5 In Salt Lake City

Hakeem Olajuwon and Clyde Drexler combine for 64 as the Rockets keep their title hopes alive with a comeback win against the Jazz

Adam Spolane
March 19, 2020 - 11:33 am

Photo by Erik Williams/USA Today

With the entire sports world shutdown due to the Coronavirus outbreak, I have nothing to do, and you have nothing to watch.

In order to cut through the boredom, and with this being the 25th anniversary of the Rockets second NBA championship, I’m going to take a look back at some of the more important games of that playoff run with running diaries of each. 

Installment number two features game five of the Rockets first round series against the Utah Jazz, the second of five elimination games that team faced. 

Thanks to a combined 81 points from Clyde Drexler and Hakeem Olajuwon, the Rockets avoided elimination with a 123-106 game four win at the Summit, setting up a winner-take-all game at the Delta Center. 

Broadcasters: Greg Gumbel, Steve Jones, and Hannah Storm

Rockets Starters

  • Pete Chilcutt
  • Robert Horry
  • Hakeem Olajuwon
  • Clyde Drexler
  • Kenny Smith

Jazz Starters

  • Karl Malone
  • David Benoit
  • James Donaldson
  • Jeff Hornacek
  • John Stockton

First quarter

8:31- John Stockton hits a jumper to put Utah up 4-2. He and Hakeem Olajuwon scored on their team’s opening possession, but the Jazz missed five straight shots on four empty trips, while the Rockets have gone 0-for-3 with four turnovers in the five possessions since Olajuwon’s bucket started the game.

7:59- Another empty Rockets trip is followed up by a David Benoit basket to put the Jazz up 6-2, but Robert Horry stops the bleeding with a nifty post move. 

He was more than just a three-point shooter.

6:54- With the Rockets leading 7-6, NBC returns out of a timeout and Greg Gumbel welcomes a national audience to the game. This was the middle game of an NBC tripleheader. The first game was game one of Knicks/Pacers, which was the Reggie Miller eight points in nine seconds game. The opener of the series between the Bulls and Magic follows this contest.  

3:51- Pete Chilcutt left the game after getting cut by Karl Malone. His replacement, Chucky Brown picks up two quick fouls, so Rudy Tomjanovich turns to 38-year old backup center, Charles Jones. Rockets lead 11-10.

3:36- A really bad double team of Clyde Drexler in the post by Jeff Hornacek leaves Kenny Smith wide open to give the Rockets a 14-10 lead.

Smith is now 16-of-23 from behind the arc in the series, and he was 7-of-8 in the Rockets game two win.

The Rockets made close to eight three-pointers per game in the regular season, and as NBC points out, that was most in the NBA. The average was just 5.5. The game has changed a lot in 25 years. 


0:53- Rockets have Jones in the game to guard Malone but are having Olajuwon double off James Donaldson. They’ve been called for illegal defense twice already. Basketball was weird in 1995. Rockets lead 19-15. 

0:00- Hornacek drains a three at the buzzer ending an ugly first quarter with the Rockets up 19-18. Olajuwon has nine points but has missed three free throws. He, Drexler, Smith, and Horry played the entire first quarter. 

Second quarter

10:20- Look at this pretty 3-on-2 fastbreak from Mario Elie, Sam Cassell and Drexler to put the Rockets up 21-20

That’s Drexler’s first bucket after missing his first four shots of the day, but he was great the first four games of the series


9:06- With Malone on the bench, Utah keeps posting up Antoine Carr. It’s not working, and Drexler has come alive, scoring six straight points, giving the Rockets a 25-20 advantage. 

8:38- It’s an 8-0 Drexler run after this sloppy sequence

5:25- Gumbel says Elie, a size 13, is wearing Pete Chilcutt’s size 15 shoes because he has bunyons. 1995, man. Rockets lead 30-27.

3:59- Frustration is building on the Utah side after a missed call on an out of bounds and a questionable offensive foul. Tom Chambers is called for one foul on Olajuwon, at which point things hit a boiling point and Steve Javie has had enough.

“Steve Javie handing out technicals like they’re candy.”- Gumbel

Smith hits both free throws to make it 34-29 Rockets at which point NBC runs a clip from the day before of Jerry Sloan talking about ignoring the officials.

“I think the team that has tunnel vision with officials is probably the strongest team, and that’s why they have a chance to win. If you have that ability to not be affected by a call that you don’t get or a call that you did get, you say ‘Oh, I’m going to get the next one’. If you’re not affected by that at all you’re not going to be affected by what they do at the offensive or defensive end, cause you’re competing, you’re not thinking backward.”

3:55- Sideline reporter Hannah Storm says Sloan is complaining that Olajuwon threw a punch. Rockets lead 36-29. You be the judge


There was no punch

2:11- How about this pass from Horry to Drexler out of the post

41-34 Rockets, Drexler has 16 points in the quarter after going scoreless in the first. 

0:00- Jazz close the first half with a 10-0 burst, with Hornacek connecting on two treys in the last three seconds. He hits a pull-up three with 2.8 seconds left, draws an offensive foul on Horry with 0.7 seconds on the clock, leading to this:

Rockets pretty much dominated the first 22 minutes of the game, but that flurry at the end of the half puts Utah up 44-42 at the break.

Third quarter

11:24- Scary moment for the Rockets as Olajuwon goes down to the floor in serious pain after getting tangled up with Donaldson. It forces him out of the game, but Storm reports its nothing more than a hurt funny bone. Lost in the confusion of the play was Horry getting fouled on a dunk and converting on the free throw to give the Rockets the lead again at 45-44. 

7:18- To go with his late three-point flurry at the end of the first half, Hornacek also had six assists. He’s continued his strong play after the break with a three-point play and delivers a nice pass to Carr who makes both free throws after getting fouled by Olajuwon. Jazz lead 56-53. 

2:28- Rockets have gone over four minutes without a field goal, and the Jazz are now on a 13-4 run to take a 67-57 lead. Utah has found success by fronting Olajuwon, taking away those easy post ups. 

1:06- Hornacek knocks down a pair of free throws to put the Jazz up a dozen. 

“Right now I don’t like the body language of the Houston Rockets. They’re acting like they’ve lost the game. They’ve lost control of the game, but they haven’t lost control of a chance to win the game.”- Steve Jones

0:00- Thanks to an Olajuwon dunk, two missed free throws from Malone, and a Drexler three, the Rockets regain their footing and trail by just seven, 71-64, going to the fourth period. 

Fourth quarter

10:00- Malone hits two free throws to put the Jazz up 75-68. He has 28 points and is 12-of-18 from the free throw line. He averaged 15.6 free throw attempts per game in the series. 

6:55- Rockets are really struggling to find offense, but Cassell, who didn’t score in the game’s first three quarters connects on a free throw and a three-pointer, and then Elie drains a three for his first bucket to bring the Rockets within two points. 

6:00- Jones was merely just a big body in 18 minutes. He grabbed one rebound and committed four fouls in that span. He didn’t have a field goal attempt, but just missed two free throws with the Rockets down four.

5:40- The Jazz make Houston pay for those missed free throws, and thanks to some terrific ball movement Hornacek delivers what feels like a dagger:

Jazz lead 82-75.

4:44- Possibly a game-saving sequence for the Rockets. Olajuwon misses two free throws, but after the Jazz fail to capitalize at their end, hits a little runner in the lane to make it a five-point game. He has 25 points. 

3:50- Olajuwon ends a streak of five straight missed free throws to draw the Rockets within four, and it’s lit inside the Delta Center.

Jazz fans

2:21- Not only can the Jazz not score, they can’t stop fouling. Three straight Houston trips have resulted in six free throw attempts. Olajuwon and Drexler combine to make five of them, and the Rockets reclaim the lead. 

1:43- Utah fails to score again, and Olajuwon gives the Rockets some breathing room with an impossible shot. 

1:03- Malone ends the Rockets 10-0 run with a right-handed hook in the lane to bring the Jazz within a point, but Olajuwon draws a foul and swishes two free throws to make it 87-84 Rockets. If you thought the 57 fouls that led to 82 free throws in game four were a lot, the crew of Javie, Hugh Hollins, and Hugh Evans whistled 67 fouls in this game, leading to 86 shots from the charity stripe. 

0:26.6- The Rockets send Hornacek to the line, but he can only make 1-of-2, making it a two-point game. When they get the ball back, the Rockets go right back to Olajuwon and as he gets doubled by Malone, an unlikely hero steps up. 

Brown hits the first and calmly steps to the line for the second.

0:14.2- More free throws! Chambers connects on a pair to cut the lead in half, but Elie answers for the Rockets to make it a two-possession game once again. 

0:02.0- Olajuwon splits a pair of free throws after Stockton misses a three-pointer, but Malone hits a desperation three to keep Utah alive. The Jazz foul Drexler in hopes of staying alive. He missed the first free throw, but makes the second, and without a timeout, Stockton races down the floor, but Smith fouls him before he can take a game-tying three. The first goes through, but he has to try to miss the second. 

Drexler makes the first free throw, and on the second seals a Rockets win.

Olajuwon scored 33 points while Drexler scored 31. No other Rocket hit double-figures. Malone’s 35 points led all scorers, but Stockton with just 12 points on 4-of-14 shooting with four assists. During their two championship runs in 1994 and 1995, the Rockets won three-of-five games at the Delta Center.

This win setup another rematch from the 1994 playoffs as the Rockets would face the Phoenix Suns once again in the Western Conference Semifinals.