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30-year Orlandoversary: Magic stun Knicks for first win in franchise history

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The Magic defeated the defending Atlantic Division champs, 118-110

Magic v Hawks Photo by Getty Images

Since their inception as an NBA franchise, the Orlando Magic have notched nearly 1,200 wins. The first one of those happened on this day three decades ago.

In just their second game as a franchise, the Magic welcomed the New York Knicks to the Orlando Arena on Nov. 6, 1989. It was a night that will live in franchise lore forever.

New York was coming off an Atlantic division title and was 1-1 early in the season as it made its first-ever trip to Orlando. The Magic had fought valiantly in their opener, but fell to the New Jersey Nets, 111-106. When all was said and done that night, Orlando was victorious for the first time, 118-110.

In the opener, the Magic showed plenty of grit, but the Nets closed the game on a 6-1 run to seal the victory. Against New York in Orlando’s second game as a franchise, the Magic led after every quarter.

After leading 26-24 after one, the Magic would take a 55-51 lead into the locker room. The Knicks managed to pull in front, 82-79, with just over two minutes to play in the third quarter, but Orlando closed the period on an 11-0 run to take an eight-point advantage into the fourth quarter.

As most had expected, New York made a run. The Knicks opened the final quarter on a 12-4 run to knot the game at 94 apiece, but the Magic scored the next seven points and never looked back.

With about 30 seconds to play, the Knicks would pull to within three at 110-107 on a three-pointer from Johnny Newman. New York had time for a stop, but a clear-path-to-the-basket foul put Orlando’s Reggie Theus at the line with 23 seconds remaining.

Theus knocked down both foul shots and the Magic retained possession. Sam Vincent calmly knocked down two more free throws to essentially put the game away.

As a team, the Magic shot 51 percent in their first-ever victory. Theus finished with 24 points to lead seven Orlando players in double figures scoring. Terry Catledge and Jerry Reynolds each scored 19 points en route to double-doubles for the Magic. Reynolds’ 12 boards tied a game-high while Catledge brought down 11 rebounds.

Off the Orlando bench, Scott Skiles would add 13 points and a game-high tying eight assists. Vincent and Dave Corzine each scored 12 points in the win while Sidney Green added 10.

For New York, center Patrick Ewing finished with a game-high 29 points while Gerald Wilkins added 21. Both of those players would end up concluding their careers with the Magic. Mark Jackson finished with 17 points, eight assists and four steals in the loss. Forward Charles Oakley scored 16 points in addition to leading the Knicks with 12 rebounds.

The Magic would win just 18 games in their inaugural season, but a franchise was indeed born. Orlando started 7-7 before losing 57 of its final 68 games. The first-ever win however, took place on this day 30 years ago.