All week we've been counting down the top Rockets games of all time, five at at time, and we've finally reached the top five. In case you missed the other parts in our countdown, check out numbers 20-16, 15-11 and 10-6.
5. May 14th, 2015 - Return of Clutch City - Rockets at Clippers - Western Conference Semifinals, Game 6
Despite injuries to starters Patrick Beverley and Donatas Motiejunas, the Rockets cruised through their first-round series with the Dallas Mavericks with relative ease, but ran into a team considerably more talented than the Mavs in the second round.
The L.A. Clippers offense initially seemed too much for the Rockets, as Blake Griffin, J.J. Redick and Austin Rivers led L.A. to an average of 119.5 point per game through the first four games and a 3-1 series lead.
After a resounding Game 5 victory, the Rockets traveled to L.A. for Game 6 and though they hung tough in the first half, the Clippers pulled away in the 3rd quarter.
Down by 19 and their season slipping away fast, the Rockets began a soon-to-be-legendary comeback led by in-season acquisitions Corey Brewer and Josh Smith.
Brewer scored 15 points in the fourth and Smith poured in 14 in the same stanza, including 3 three-pointers (4 total), to help the Rockets turn an 87-68 elimination-facing deficit into a 119-107 victory.
James Harden spent the entire fourth quarter on the bench cheering, as he watched his teammates erupt on a 21-3 run that closed out the game. The Clippers went 6:44 in the fourth period without a bucket.
The Rockets would go on to win in Game 7, capping off an historic comeback from a 3-1 deficit and punching the franchise's first ticket to the Western Conference Finals in 18 years. Nearly two decades of playoff heartbreak evaporated in the vapor trail of Smith's and Brewer's fourth quarter play.
Clutch City, indeed.
4. May 20th, 1995 - The kiss of death - Rockets at Suns, 1994 Western Conference Semifinals, Game 7
Almost 20 years to the day before the 2015 Rockets' historic comeback, the original boys from Clutch City pulled a little comeback of their own.
They were facing the Phoenix Suns in the Western Semis for the second straight year, and the Suns were out for revenge after being eliminated in seven games the season before.
After being completely blown out in the first two games in Phoenix, and despite recovering their composure in Game Three, they found themselves in 3-1 deficit after a hard-fought Game 4.
The Rockets rode the dominant play of Hakeem Olajuwon in Games 5 and 6 (scored 30-plus in both) and the hot shooting of point guard tandem Kenny Smith and Sam Cassell to tie the series at 3-3, with a Game 7 in Phoenix for all the marbles.
It certainly lived up to the hype.
After falling behind double digits in the first half, Clutch City used big second halves by Olajuwon, Drexler and Cassell to (big surprise) tie the game late in the fourth, setting up Mario Elie's dramatic bucket to send the Suns home packing for a second straight season.
All sealed with a beautiful kiss, of course.
3. May 24th, 1995 - Hakeem takes back his trophy - Rockets at Spurs - Western Conference Finals, Game 2
Before Game 2 of the '95 Western Conference Finals, David Robinson received his MVP trophy at center court while last year's MVP, Hakeem Olajuwon, watched from the sidelines.
Robinson's acceptance speech thanked a list of big men that he's played against whose competition helped mold him into the MVP he was that day, and he left off one notable exception.
Olajuwon made sure Robinson would never forget about him again.
Hakeem stepped up his game to preternatural levels and put on what is widely regarded as the pinnacle display of the big man post game and footwork.
Using moves and counter moves that no one had ever seen before, Olajuwon twisted his patented Dream Shake to new heights in eviscerating the current MVP on Robinson's home floor on the night he accepted the award.
Olajuwon's 41 points, 16 rebounds, 4 assists, 3 steals and 2 blocks stunned the Spurs for the second straight game and had David Robinson on his heels for the remainder of the series.
The Rockets closed out the Spurs in six games, with Olajuwon averaging 35.3 points, 12.5 rebounds, 5 assists, 4.1 blocks and 1.3 steals, and the Spurs' failure to to contain Hakeem with two all-world defenders (Robinson and Dennis Rodman) was the difference in the series.
20 years later, Olajuwon's beautiful performance still hasn't been replicated, and it all started in Game Two.
2. May 21st, 1986 - The shot - Rockets at Lakers, Western Conference FInals, Game 5
The Twin Towers. 7'4 Ralph Sampson and 7'0" Hakeem Olajuwon, were dubbed basketball's next big thing, and for one fleeting season, it appeared they would be.
The Twin Towers tore through the regular season, with Sampson averaging 18.9 points, 11.1 rebounds, 3.6 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.3 blocks and Olajuwon averaging 23.5 points, 11.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 2.0 steals, and 3.4 blocks.
The Rockets finished the regular season 51-31 and swept the Sacramento Kings in the first round and took out the Denver Nuggets in six games in the semifinals.
As dominant as the Rockets had been, not many gave them more than a puncher's chance when they took on the Showtime Lakers in their prime. Sure, Sampson and Olajuwon were great young talents, but this was Showtime: Magic Johnson, James Worthy, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Michael Cooper, Byron Scott, Kurt Rambis, A.C. Green. Surely, the upstart Rockets were no match for one of the greatest Laker lineups to ever hit the floor?
After dropping Game 1 in L.A., the Rockets took three straight from the prohibitive favorites, which featured 24 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists by Sampson in Game 2, and 40 and 35-point games by Olajuwon in Games 3 and 4 respectively while matched up with Kareem. The four-time defending champs were reeling, and the Twin Towers were the ones doing the knocking around.
Then, in a contentious and tight Game 5, the Lakers were up early, only to have Olajuwon and the Rockets storm back behind 17 Hakeem points in the third quarter. The Lakers couldn't stop Olajuwon, so they sent out an aging Mitch Kupchak to goad Olajuwon into a fight, goon-style, and a young Hakeem was more than happy to oblige.
Hakeem was ejected at 4:21 in the fourth with the scoring margin razor thin in a 102-101 Lakers lead, and the Rockets facing an uphill battle without their star center. But Sampson was happy to take over underneath, scoring on a dunk and and a sky hook.
Then, as time dwindled down with a tie score, the Rockets held the Lakers with just two seconds left, called time out with one, and set themselves up for one final inbound play.
Sampson took the pass on the throw in and got off one of the most unlikely, ridiculous one-timers in basketball history to finally halt the reign of the Lakers, 114-112.
Of course, we all know the fate of that Rockets squad, squandering away so much promise into the haze of the mid-'80s, while the Lakers rebounded to start a three-peat the following year.
But on May 21st, 1986, the Twin Towers were the present and the future of NBA Basketball, even if the real narrative never ultimately worked out that way.
1. June 22nd, 1994 - The first one is the sweetest - Rockets vs Knicks, NBA Finals, Game 7
The penultimate moment: NBA Finals, Game Seven, at home. It would be the biggest moment of their lives. But only if they won.
Standing in their way was a team of equal desire and equal strength, one whom they had battled to a standstill through six tough games.
One of them would falter, and one of them was headed to the promised land, and Hakeem Olajuwon and Vernon Maxwell made sure it was the Rockets.
Olajuwon's 25 points, 10 rebounds, 7 assists and 3 blocks combined with Maxwell's 21 points, including a huge three to put the Rockets up late in the fourth quarter and essentially iced the game.
A seven-game grind against a near equal, winning the franchise's first title, your best player caps off an MVP and Defensive Player of the Year Award with a Finals MVP (still the only one to do this) and it all finished up on your home floor?
What could be better?