#2) May 25, 1997: Eddie Johnson At The Buzzer!
This is my all-time favorite buzzer-beater I’ve seen in my life time as far as Rockets history.
It was just one of those moments that made you feel good as a Rockets’ fan, demonstrating our scrappy, underdog-style, shock-the-world status of the 1997 playoffs.
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The Rockets had dropped the first two games at Salt Lake City but climbed their way back in the series when it shifted back to Compaq Center, team’s raucous but aging home court.
Eddie Johnson was at the twilight of his career having nearly played 20 seasons with most of them with the Kansas City/Sacramento Kings (six seasons) but had stops with the Phoenix Suns (four seasons), Seattle Supersonics (three seasons), Charlotte Hornets (one season), a season in Greece, Indiana Pacers (two seasons) and finally three seasons with the Houston Rockets.
I was glad Barkley was here too.
He was shooting close to a 40 percent-clip from beyond-the-arc that year so he was a reliable source of offense when we needed it.
The play was setup perfectly as then point-guard Matt Maloney handed it off to Johnson to sink it with no time on the clock for his ceremonial run to the Rockets bench as he got mobbed by his teammates and Compaq Center erupting in jubilation.
Seeing Rudy Tomjanovich run the length of the court after the shot while Greg Gumbel making an incredible call for NBC was definitely a bonus!
He effectively helped the Rockets knot the series at two games a piece, breathing new life in the Rockets’ chances to advance.
He had only seven points for the day and that three-pointer was only his second made of the game.
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It was certainly the high point for that series as the low point was when John Stockton hit a dagger of his own in Game 6 just four days later on May 29th giving the Jazz a 103-100 win to advance to the Finals.
I recall being sick to my stomach when I was watching that moment live, in disbelief that something like that could happen.
Should Barkley have rotated to defend Stockton instead of leaving him wide-open?
We’ll never know — I’m damn positive we would’ve given the Chicago Bulls a hell of series had we advanced.
But one things for sure, Johnson will forever hold a spot in Rockets history for that pivotal shot and I’m sure it extended his career longer than he had envisioned as well.
Next: CLICK HERE: Clutch Shot No. 1: You Know The Name, You Know The Gesture