Although Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals may still be a sore subject for basketball fans in the City Beautiful, Nick Anderson had more than his fair share of clutch moments over his 11-year tenure with the Orlando Magic. One of those moments came on this day 30 years ago.
Anderson was able to overcome a rough shooting night with the game-winning basket. His reverse layup with 2.8 seconds remaining lifted the Magic past the Cleveland Cavaliers, 95-93.
The Magic were off to a blistering 7-3 start as they arrived at the Orlando Arena on Nov. 28, 1992. The Cavaliers were an even 6-6 but had won three of four.
Orlando fell into an early 16-4 hole but managed to take the lead by the middle parts of the second quarter. Shaking the Cavaliers, however, was easier said than done.
With the score knotted 90-90 with 41 seconds left, Orlando forward Dennis Scott capped a 28-point night by knocking down his fourth three-pointer of the evening to give the Magic a 93-90 lead. Fifteen seconds later, however, Gerald Wilkins answered with a three-point play of his own to tie the game once.
The sixth-leading scorer in the NBA coming in, Anderson had gone just 1-for-10 from the floor for the night. On the game’s decisive possession, Magic head coach Matt Goukas still elected to put the ball in Anderson’s hands.
On an isolation play, Anderson was able to get to the rim and convert to give the Magic the lead for good. Despite a rough shooting night, Anderson helped the Magic in a number of ways, adding nine rebounds, eight assists, two steals and two blocks. On the final possession, Anderson crowded Wilkins, causing him to step out of bounds for the game-sealing turnover.
In addition to Scott’s 28 points and Anderson’s 12, Shaquille O’Neal finished with 22 points, 14 rebounds, and three blocks in the win. Larry Nance led Cleveland with 24 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Mark Price added 23 points in the loss on an efficient 10-for-16 from the field.
With the win, Orlando improved to 8-3, tying the best month in franchise history at the time. The final victory of November was decided by a late Anderson layup. It came on this day three decades ago.