The Rockets come into the American Airlines Center today with a 3-0 record, the first time they have started with that record since 1996. That season would stand as Hakeem Olajuwon's final healthy season. It was also the year the Rockets decided they wanted Charles Barkley instead of Sam Cassell and Robert Horry.
They would go on to win their first six games that season before falling to the Lakers in double overtime in their seventh game. Later in the season, they would go on to a first-round playoff sweep against the Stephon Marbury/Tom Gugliotta/Kevin Garnett-led Minnesota Timberwolves , who were making their first franchise playoff appearance. After defeating the reigning Western Conference Champion Sonics 4-3 in the semifinals, they ultimately fell to the Utah Jazz in six games in the Conference Finals.
The not-so-good Mavericks did not fare so well against those Rockets and were swept for the season series. That was Michael Finley's first season with the Mavericks and he was the leading scorer for Dallas in two of those games. The leading scorer for the Mavs in their final meeting with Houston that season? Sasha Danilovic. Did I mention they weren't very good?
-Scooter Hendon, Hoops Nerd