For most franchises, the early years tend to be pretty tough. The Orlando Magic suffered through losing campaigns in each of their first three seasons and didn’t have a winning season until their fifth.
On this day 30 years ago however, the Magic ended a run of futility, thanks to a career-night and late-game heroics from Sam Vincent. Vincent knocked down two clutch free throws with less than a second remaining as Orlando snapped a 17-game losing streak with a 104-103 victory over the Seattle SuperSonics.
After a 5-3 start, the Magic had lost 22 of 23 games as they arrived at Seattle Center Coliseum on Jan. 8, 1992. Orlando was shorthanded without top scorers Dennis Scott and Scott Skiles. Orlando was also missing key pieces in Otis Smith, Jerry Reynolds and Brian Williams.
With time ticking away, it looked as though an 18th straight loss was an inevitability for the Magic. Orlando trailed 101-94 with a little over three minutes to play. Despite everything seemingly going wrong, the Magic dug deep.
Vincent came up with four free throws and Nick Anderson scored a pair of buckets as the Magic cut the lead to 103-102. After a Seattle turnover, the Magic had a chance to steal a road victory.
To that point, Vincent had scored 33 points and the Magic chose to ride the hot hand. Setting up for a final shot, Vincent was able to draw contact. With 0.6 seconds remaining, he calmly knocked down two free throws.
Orlando survived. The streak was snapped three games shy of tying an NBA record.
With a league-minimum eight players available, Vincent led the way with a career-high 35 points with eight rebounds, seven assists and two steals. Vincent was 17-for-18 from the free throw line while the Magic went 32-for-33 as a team.
Terry Catledge added 30 points in the win and Anderson scored 22 despite the lackluster shooting night. Jeff Turner added 11 points. As a team, Orlando attempted just two three-pointers with no makes.
Benoit Benjamin led six Seattle players in double figures with 24 points on 10-for-16 shooting. Ricky Pierce added 20 points for the SuperSonics in the loss.
The 17-game losing streak would be the longest in Magic history until the early parts of the 2003-04 season when Orlando lost 19 straight after winning its opener. The 17-game skid came to a halt, thanks to a career performance and two clutch free throws from Sam Vincent on this day three decades ago.