NBA Finals: The Best games from Dragic and Dwight Howard as Rockets

Dwight Howard (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
Dwight Howard (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images) /

With two former Houston Rockets making it to the NBA Finals, we take a look back at their best games throughout their time with the team.

The Houston Rockets didn’t have enough to get past LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers this postseason, but they still have a couple of ties to guys that made the NBA Finals. Veterans Goran Dragic and Dwight Howard both spent some time with the Rockets, and one of them will finally be crowned an NBA champion by mid-October.

Although the Rockets’ small ball strategy kept Dwight Howard off the court for virtually all of the Western Conference semifinals, his minutes increased to 20.2 per game against Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets. As a result, his contributions of 8.2 points and 5.2 rebounds per game helped L.A. to a five-game series victory.

Meanwhile, Goran Dragic has been one of the best playoff performers in the bubble, averaging 20.9 points and 4.7 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. The Slovenian guard has only been held below 15 points in two of the Heat’s 15 postseason games, pacing a squad that seems to boast a different weapon every game.

With the two set to face off in an exciting NBA Finals starting Wednesday night, let’s take a look back at the best individual game from each man during their time with the Houston Rockets.

Dwight Howard: Houston Rockets at LA Clippers – January 18, 2016

The 2015-16 season didn’t start as the Rockets would’ve hoped, with the team hovering two games above .500 after 42 games. In a January visit to the Staples Center, the Rockets looked to complete back-to-back victories over the Lakers and Clippers in two nights.

After a 112-95 victory over the Lakers, Dwight Howard and the Rockets pushed the Clippers to a 122-122 tie after regulation the next evening. By the end of regulation, Houston looked gassed, only putting up 10 points in the overtime to fall 140-132 against Chris Paul and the Clippers.

Although they came up just short, Dwight Howard had a monster game for the Houston Rockets, scoring 36 points and pulling down 26 rebounds in just over 45 minutes. In a rare display of shooting touch, he also sank 14 of his 18 free throw attempts while shooting 11-for-16 from the floor.

Howard singlehandedly pulled down more offensive rebounds for Houston than the entire Clippers team, nabbing 10 to their nine. In the end, a monster 40-point game from J.J. Redick was too much to overcome, but Howard was a mighty force that night.

Goran Dragic: Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers – April 6, 2012

In another Houston-Los Angeles battle, Goran Dragic had the best game of his Rockets career in a visit to the Space Center seeking to secure the team’s 30th win of the season. Winners of four in a row going into the matchup, the Lakers were rolling with the playoffs approaching.

At 29-25, the Rockets weren’t likely to make the playoffs of the shortened 66-game season, but they didn’t care this night. Behind 26 points and 11 assists from Dragic, the Rockets pulled away for a five-point victory over Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, winning 112-107.

In the contest, Dragic shot 3-of-7 from beyond the arc and 8-of-19 overall while also draining 7-of-8 from the charity stripe. Helping to pace the Rockets was Luis Scola, who scored 25 on 59 percent shooting.

While Goran never enjoyed the playoffs with the Rockets, he developed his game plenty in Houston, helping shape him into the star he’s become for Miami.

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The NBA Finals tip off Wednesday at 9 PM ET. Which former Rocket do you want to see win it all?