In the early years of the franchise, wins weren’t all that common for the Orlando Magic. The Magic had losing seasons in each of their first four campaigns and averaged less than 28 wins per season over that stretch.
Still, there were some thrillers along the way. One of those came on this day 30 years ago as Jerry Reynolds’ game-winner with less than five seconds to go lifted Orlando past the New Jersey Nets, 102-100.
Things were close throughout as the Nets visited Orlando Arena on Nov. 16, 1991. The contest was tied at halftime and featured a back-and-fourth final quarter.
The Magic took an 81-77 lead into the final period. New Jersey was able to pull in front on a three-pointer by Drazen Petrovic midway through the final period. From there, the lead changed hands five times.
The final lead for the Nets stood at 98-97 before Nick Anderson knocked down two free throws for the Magic with 1:44 to play. Up 99-98, Terry Catledge doubled the Orlando lead by splitting a pair of foul shots.
With 13 seconds remaining however, Sam Bowie drew New Jersey even. Bowie hit a pair of free throws to tie the game, which set the stage for Reynolds.
Reynolds would get the ball on the final Orlando possession. He was able to get the step on a New Jersey defender and finish on the driving layup with just 4.3 seconds remaining.
The Nets would get one last chance, but Chris Morris missed the winning three-point try and the Magic escaped with the thrilling win.
Dennis Scott led the Magic with a game-high 25 points while Catledge and Scott Skiles each recorded double-doubles. Catledge finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds. Skiles tallied 19 points and 15 assists. Anderson added 18 points in the victory.
Bowie paced the Nets with 24 points in the win. Petrovic finished with 22 points in the losing effort.
The loss for New Jersey was its seventh straight after opening the year with a victory. With the win, the Magic would improve to 5-3.
Orlando would lose its next six games and never again own a winning record that season. Its last win as a team with a winning record from that season came in thrilling fashion and on this day three decades ago.