Houston Rockets: An alternate 1994 NBA Finals timeline against Bulls

Retired Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan (Photo by BRIAN BAHR / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images)
Retired Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon and Michael Jordan (Photo by BRIAN BAHR / AFP) (Photo credit should read BRIAN BAHR/AFP via Getty Images) /
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Houston Rockets
Retired Houston Rockets center Hakeem Olajuwon facing against Michael Jordan and Luc Longley (Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Daniel/AL) /

1994 NBA Finals: Games 1-3

Game 1 – Rockets 117-108 (Rockets lead 1-0)

With home-court advantage, the Rockets would take advantage in front of their fans. Shooting over fifty percent (53.2 percent) from the field in the game, Houston would take a 54-48 at halftime. The only downside of this game would be Chicago winning the third quarter 34-29 to cut the lead to one after three quarters. Fortunately, Houston would take back momentum and would win the fourth quarter 34-26 to win Game 1.

Both Michael Jordan (31 points, 10 rebounds) and Hakeem Olajuwon (30 points, 13 rebounds, seven blocks) would reach thirty points and tally double-doubles. Both teams would be helped by their power forwards with Horace Grant (23 points, 14 rebounds) and Otis Thorpe (27 points, 16 rebounds) contributing in a big way. Scottie Pippen and Robert Horry would match each other with 17 points apiece.

Game 2 – Bulls 106-103 (Series Tied 1-1)

Unfazed by their Game 1 loss, the Bulls would show the Rockets why they were the defending champions. After trailing 25-24 in the first quarter, Chicago outscored Houston 53-42 in the next two quarters to lead 77-67. Houston would put up a comeback effort scoring 36 points, but it wouldn’t be enough as the Bulls escaped with the victory to take home-court advantage back to Chicago.

Jordan would lead all scorers with 32 points while Grant would once again step up making 27 points in the power forward spot. Pippen pitched in 19 points making those three the only double-digit scorers for the Bulls. Olajuwon finished with 29 points, but Grant would do a great job defending Thorpe and holding him to 18 while Vernon Maxwell was held to 17 points. The Rockets did outshoot the Bulls 49.4 to 47.8 percent from the field, yet when Chicago has three guys scoring 20+ points and you only had one guy do that, it’s tough to win games.

Game 3 – Bulls 96-85 (Bulls lead 2-1)

Despite losing homecourt, Houston played a dominant first half taking a 47-41 lead. Where things would go wrong was another strong third quarter by Chicago, who posted a 33-21 win to go up by six. It would get worse in the fourth quarter as Chicago won that quarter to prevail 96-85.

Olajuwon led all scorers with 29 points while Jordan had 25. As usual, Grant and Thorpe played their new roles as second in commands well scoring 16 and 18 points respectively. Ultimately, what impeded the Rockets’ chances to win were their free throws. Though the Bulls made 68.8 percent from the charity stripe, Houston went 10-of-18 from the line for 55.6 percent and Olajuwon missed half of his free throws.

With Chicago up two games to one, the Rockets need to grab a win to bring the series back to Houston. An opportunity to do so lies in Game 4. A Bulls win guarantees all but a fourth straight title as no team had overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a championship. It would be 22 years later for that to happen. The Rockets have to win and now.