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15-year Orlandoversary: Magic edge shorthanded Pacers one night after “Malice at the Palace”

The Pacers, on the second night of a back-to-back, had a six-man rotation

Orlando Magic v Indiana Pacers Photo by Ron Hoskins/NBAE via Getty Images

Tuesday famously marked the 15-year anniversary of the infamous “Malice at the Palace” incident where a brawl broke out between members of the Indiana Pacers and players and fans of the Detroit Pistons at the palace of Auburn Hills in Michigan.

The incident started when Detroit’s Ben Wallace was fouled from behind by the Indiana forward then known as Ron Artest. The incident escalated into an all-out brawl involving players and fans. Nine fans were injured in the incident and two were hospitalized.

In total, nine players were suspended. Artest was suspended for the remainder of the season while Indiana teammates Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal got 30 and 15 games, respectively. Anthony Johnson got a five-game suspension. Wallace was suspended for six games for Detroit while three other Pistons served one-game suspensions.

The unfortunate incident served as a black eye for both teams and the NBA, but on this day 15 years ago, the Orlando Magic managed to reap the benefits of a slew of suspensions. At Conseco Fieldhouse on Nov. 20, 2004, the Magic edged an Indiana team that played just six players, 86-83.

Despite Indiana being severely shorthanded, the Pacers gave the Magic all they wanted. The contest was actually tied at 65 apiece after three quarters and Indiana led by two with more than eight minutes to play.

Down 69-67, Orlando forward Grant Hill would score six points during an 8-2 run that put the Magic ahead for good. After both teams went more than two minutes without a point later in the quarter, Hill hit another big jumper with less than a minute remaining to push the Orlando lead to 80-75, but scrappy Indiana wouldn’t go away.

That was largely due to a big night from guard Fred Jones.

During a night in which he scored a career-high 31 points, Jones hit three free throws with 37 seconds remaining to cut the lead to two and a trey with seven seconds remaining to make it a one-point game at 84-83. After Hill knocked down a pair of fouls shots, Jones’ game-tying three-point attempt as time expired went awry and the Magic survived.

Hill paced the Magic with 28 points while Hedo Turkoglu and Steve Francis added 16 and 13 points, respectively. Rookie Dwight Howard led Orlando with 11 rebounds and a game-high four blocks. In addition to Jones’ big night, David Harrison tallied 19 points, eight rebounds and three blocks for Indiana. James Jones added 12 points, 12 rebounds and three steals in the defeat.

Although Indiana finished 44-38 and reached the Eastern Conference Semifinals during the 2004-05 season, the Magic actually took three of four over the Pacers during a disappointing 36-46 campaign. The first of those wins came against an extremely shorthanded team and on this day 15 years ago.

And here’s a bonus Orlandoversary....