Tonight the Houston Rockets square off against division rivals, the Memphis Grizzlies on TNT. Rockets legend, Kenny “The Jet” Smith who works for TNT, and is an Emmy Award winner due to his work on TNT’s Inside the NBA, may have a game twenty years ago today on his mind.
On December 26th, 1993 the Rockets faced the Los Angeles Lakers, after losing to the Phoenix Suns the day before on Christmas. Houston was en route to the franchise’s first NBA Championship, with a 23-3 record at the time. The lineup is memorable to all Rockets fans. Hakeem Olajuwon, Otis Thorpe, Robert Horry, Vernon Maxwell, and Kenny Smith.
The Rockets opponents the Los Angeles Lakers were going through a rebuilding of sorts with the retirement of Magic Johnson, and an aging James Worthy coming off the bench. Lakers started Nick Van Exel, Doug Christie, Anthony Peeler, Elden Campbell, and Vlade Divac. Not the most memorable Lakers lineup, but the night was memorable for Kenny Smith.
Kenny scored 41 points on 16-24 (67%) shooting, knocked down 3 threes, and added 6 dimes, and 3 steals. Olajuwon and Otis combined for only 32 points. What could have been the catalyst to Kenny going off? He shot 10 more shots then Olajuwon, and backcourt mate Vernon Maxwell shot a poor 2-11.
Maybe the resin for the explosion was the presence of Nick Van Exel and Doug Christie? They both combined for only 30 points and Christie was 8-21(38%).
The night before Kenny scored 4 points, and the game after he scored 8 points, he also never scored 40 or more points in a game again. There are no highlights of this game on YouTube, but there is that 7 three point game in the Finals to enjoy: