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Greatest Playoff Upsets
3 of 11
No. 8
Rockets defeat Lakers
1981 (first round)
Though this first-round series was only a best-of-three affair, nobody gave the Rockets much of a chance to defeat the defending champion Lakers, who finished the season with 14 more wins than Houston. But Moses Malone, Calvin Murphy and Rudy Tomjanovich were able to contain Kareem Abdul Jabbar and second-year star Magic Johnson as the Rockets won the deciding Game 3, 89-86, to take the series. Houston continued its surprise run all the way to the NBA Finals but were eventually defeated by Larry Bird and the Boston Celtics.
Text: Andy Gray/SI
Photo: Andy Hayt/SI