The Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs have a rivalry that dates back to the 1970’s when the Spurs moved from the American Basketball Association to the National Basketball Association (NBA). This rivalry has come to be known as “The I-10 Rivalry” because both San Antonio and Houston fall on Interstate 10. However, it has not yet been established who will win the title of this interstate, yet alone this feud!
This rivalry between the two teams took off fairly quickly.The Rockets first won the division title against the Spurs in 1977. Then, the Spurs went on to win it in 1978 and 1979. Both teams finally had their first match off in the 1980 playoffs. The Houston Rockets dominated with a 2-1 final win. In 1981, the Spurs and the Rockets met up again in the second round of the NBA playoffs. However, this season, the Spurs reigned supreme and took home the Midwest division title with a 53-30 record. The Rockets only had a 42-40 record. The Rockets and the Spurs fought a tough match! In the end, the Rockets held on to win Game 7, led by Calvin Murphy’s 42 points. The Rockets advanced to the Finals.
This rivalry reignited in 1996 when the Rockets, the sixth-seeded team, surprisingly beat the Spurs, who were the top-seeded team. The flames of competition were fanned higher by the match off between team leaders Hakeem Olajuwon and MVP David Robinson. The rivalry between the teams was an anticipated match born not out of animosity, but of fun! Beloved Rockets player, Olajuwon even recounted, “”I think when I walk onto that court, 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.”
The Most Memorable Competitions
In the seventh game of the classics, the Rockets overtook the Spurs to advance to the Western Conference Finals. The 42 points brought in by Calvin Murphy capped off the win for the Rockets. The Rockets, however, did not go on to win the NBA Finals.
The Rockets were up for their second consecutive NBA championship. They had blown through the Utah Jazz, and the Phoenix Suns. This brought them to the top-seeded Spurs, who they would have to match off for the Conference Finals. The Spurs already blew through their set of opponents – the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Lakers – in a six-game bout. Olajuwon made sure to have his skills on full display for the Conference Finals. The Rockets went on to beat the Spurs 4-2 and advance to the finals. They then went on to dominate the Orlando Magic with a 4-0 playoff series, taking home the biggest trophy as the NBA’s best team.
Leading Rockets scorer Tracy McGrady led the team to a comeback in the last 35 seconds of a Rockets vs. Spurs match. In just 35 seconds, Tracy McGrady scored 13 points. A three-point shot in the final 1.7 seconds brought the to win the game 81-80. This win ended a previous seven-game losing streak by the Rockets.
In 2008, the Spurs and the Rockets united for their usual match off. The Rockets were up for most of the game and were leading by seven in the last 14 minutes. In the last minutes of the game, Spurs player Tim Duncan and George Hill led the team to a comeback. With just 56 seconds left in the game, Tim Duncan took the lead for the Spurs with a hook shot. With just two seconds left in the game, the Spurs ended up at the free-throw line, making one of two shots. A missed free throw by Ron Artest left the Spurs with a winning score of 77-75.
The Rockets and the Spurs had their latest match on March 6th, in which the Spurs won 112-110. This rivalry doesn’t seem as though it’ll be settled soon until then we’ll keep our eyes on both The Houston Rockets and the San Antonio Spurs.