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30-year Orlandoversary: Magic rally from 25 down in Cleveland for first road win

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One of the most memorable wins of the Magic’s inaugural season

Orlando Magic v Washington Bullets Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

All-time, the Orlando Magic have a losing record, but to the surprise of many, that wasn’t the case three games into their existence. On this day 30 years ago, the Magic rallied from 25 points down to defeat the Cleveland Cavaliers in overtime for the first road win in franchise history, 117-110.

Orlando was coming off of a shocking 118-110 victory over the New York Knicks as it hit the road for the first time on Nov. 8, 1989. Cleveland was 0-2 as it aimed for its first win of the season at Richfield Coliseum where it had finished 37-4 the season prior.

For the early parts of the evening, it looked as though that win would come with relative ease. The Cavaliers led 31-21 after a quarter before a 21-6 run to open the second quarter pushed the lead to 52-27.

With the contest seemingly spiraling out of control, the Magic seized control with an ungodly 52-22 run that spanned a quarter and a half. Orlando trailed 58-47 at the half before taking a 79-74 lead into the final quarter.

Jeff Turner gave the Magic their first lead of the game late in the period, 71-70, after following a Sam Vincent miss, but the Cavaliers were able to get back on track.

Cleveland would outscore the Magic 25-20 in the fourth quarter to force overtime. Vincent would have a chance to be the hero for Orlando, but missed a jumper as time expired and the game tied, 99-99.

But in the extra period, it was all Orlando. The Magic opened overtime on a 6-1 run and never looked back. Orlando’s Reggie Theus led all scorers with 28 points while Vincent and Terry Catledge each tallied 23 points in the comeback victory. Catledge led Orlando with 12 rebounds while Jeff Turner tallied 10 points and nine boards off the Magic bench.

On the other side, Ron Harper paced Cleveland with 26 points. John “Hot Rod” Williams finished with 23 points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Randolph Keys totaled 19 points and five steals in the loss.

The win for the Magic came without making a three-pointer — a concept that seems unthinkable in today’s game. The Cavaliers also went without a trey as the teams combined to shoot 0-for-6 from deep.

With the victory, the Magic improved to 2-1 and climbed over .500 for the first time in their history. Orlando proceeded to lose the next five games and it would be nearly two years later before it had a winning record as it won the first three games of the 1991-92 season.

The inaugural season for the Magic produced just 18 wins and only six on the road. The first of those and perhaps the most memorable came on this day three decades ago.