Whether it’s been in the postseason or regular season, there have been some thrilling finishes between the Orlando Magic and Atlanta Hawks over the years.
One of those came on this day 25 years ago. With the clock ticking away in overtime, forward Dennis Scott saved the day for the Magic with a 3-pointer with less than a second to play to lift Orlando to a thrilling 113-111 victory.
The Magic were a ridiculous 28-1 at the Orlando Arena as the teams got set to do battle on March 5, 1995. For most of the night however, the Hawks stood toe-to-toe with the Magic.
Atlanta led 49-47 at halftime and by an 80-74 score after three quarters. Twice in the final 10 seconds of regulation, the Hawks needed just one stop to secure the victory, but were unable to get one.
With 6.6 seconds remaining, Brian Shaw hit a pair of free throws for Orlando to knot the score at 100, but Atlanta’s Andrew Lang had the answer. Off the ensuing inbound, Lane was able to catch, shoot and connect on a long jumper to give the Hawks a 102-100 lead with 4.5 seconds left.
But on the final possession of regulation for the Magic, guard Anfernee Hardaway was fouled after catching the inbound pass. Hardaway calmly knocked down both foul shots with 3.1 seconds remaining and the Hawks were unable to get a shot off before the end of regulation.
In regulation, it looked like Lang had delivered the dagger for the Hawks. In overtime, it looked as though that honor would belong to sharpshooter Steve Smith. After a Shaquille O’Neal offensive rebound led to a 3-pointer from Scott to put the Magic up 110-109, Smith stroked a long jumper to put Atlanta back in front with less than five seconds to play.
Trailing 111-110, Shaw fired to Scott on the final possession for the Magic. Scott used a dribble to try to create separation before knocking down a pull-up 3-pointer from the corner with 0.3 seconds to play. The clutch shot was the sixth trey for Scott — who played his college basketball in Atlanta at Georgia Tech — on the evening and capped a contest where the Magic continually came back from the dead.
Scott finished with 20 points in the win and was one of four Magic players to hit that threshold. O’Neal paced Orlando with 30 points and nine rebounds. Hardaway tallied 23 points while Nick Anderson chipped in with 21 points and eight assists.
Smith was the top scorer for the Hawks with 23 points. Grant Long and Augmon each added 20 points in the loss. Grant grabbed a game-high 15 rebounds while guard and teammate Mookie Blaylock recorded a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds and 14 assists.
Orlando would go on to finish an NBA-best 39-2 at home during the 1994-95 season and secure the top seed in the Eastern Conference. There were a number of thrillers that season for the Magic, but few were more exciting than the contest that happened on this day a quarter century ago.