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The memory of Game 1 of the 1995 Finals will haunt Magic fans forever. It was a stage where Shaq showed that he would someday be one of the greatest players to play the game, but would have to go head-to-head with another future Hall of Fame center. It was a game of dramatic runs, huge lead changes, and brutal post battles.
When Orlando lost Game 1 to the Rockets in overtime, there was a sense that the series and season were indeed over. Mrs. Momentum had changed her dress, and there would be no stopping the Rockets after such an abysmal unraveling.
The story is simple. The Magic had a 20-point lead late in the second quarter, and blew the lead by the beginning of the fourth. Nick Anderson had a chance to end the game with his Magic up three, but he went 0-for-4 from the line with 10 seconds remaining. It was shocking, and the game went into overtime on some clutch Houston shooting.
Shaq played a better game than Hakeem
This was slated as one of the ultimate center matchups in NBA history. They said no one could contain Shaq but Hakeem, and no one could size up Hakeem but Shaq. It was a battle of power and finesse, and one that will be remembered forever. In Game 1, though, Hakeem struggled (despite scoring 31 points) to dominate the game in the same way Shaq did. Shaq’s vision, especially in the first half, was the driving force that opened up the floor so much for the outside gunners. Even though Shaq scored fewer points than The Dream, he had a career-high in assists that evening, and nearly hit a triple-double. What’s more, he limited Hakeem to six rebounds in the game.