Houston Rockets: 15 greatest playoff moments of all-time
3. Yao Ming sinks the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1
History has always been kind to the Los Angeles Lakers when it comes to NBA championships, but the Rockets haven’t always had that luxury, especially in the postseason. These two teams have met numerous times during the postseason and in this one, it was no different.
During the 2009 NBA Playoffs, the Rockets looked like they were playing on another level with Yao Ming leading the way.
Yao produced 15.8 points, 10.7 rebounds and 1.2 blocks per game in the first round against the Portland Trail Blazers. In the Western Conference semifinals, the Lakers stood in their way. It only elevated Yao’s play.
In Game 1 on May 4, 2009, he poured in 28 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks as he set the tone. He shot 9-of-17 from the floor and was 10-for-10 from the free throw line, as Houston won 100-92.
It looked like it would be a landslide for the Rockets. Although he didn’t drop a career-high in points, but it looked like the Yao of old with such a dominating performance against Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol.
Yao went down with a career-ending foot injury in Game 3 and would never return to the hardwood, though. He put up 19 points and 14 rebounds in his final game of postseason action.
The Rockets would go on to lose the series in seven games to the eventual NBA champions. Yao’s injury probably deterred what looked like a franchise player in the making. However, Yao still would go on to be inducted in the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 2016 for his contributions to the game, both internationally and domestically.