In the early-1990s, the Chicago Bulls ruled the NBA while the Orlando Magic were just finding their footing as a new franchise.
On this day 30 years ago however, the Magic stunned the Bulls with a comeback for the ages. Orlando erased a 20-point fourth-quarter deficit to top Chicago, 111-108.
The Bulls led 86-70 after three quarters at Chicago Stadium on March 21, 1992 and wasted little time increasing that lead to 20. The Magic were on the short end of a 94-74 score during the final period, but came storming back.
Orlando had made a 26-13 run, but still looked dead in the water as it trailed by seven with just more than two minutes to play. Scott Skiles however, would deliver the first three-pointer of the night for the Magic and cut the deficit to 107-103.
Chicago would not score another field goal.
It was Stanley Roberts, who ultimately drew Orlando even. After getting an offensive rebound and scoring on a missed free throw to cut the Chicago lead to two, Roberts’ slam with 43 seconds to go knotted the score.
With the game tied at 108, Chicago All-Star forward Scottie Pippen threw an inbounds pass away with 25 seconds left. With the shot clock and game clock almost even, Chris Corchiani drove to the basket for Orlando. He was unable to score, but did draw contact. Corchiani made both free throws to put Orlando ahead for good with nine seconds left, 110-108.
For the Bulls, the following possession was déjà vu. Pippen’s inbounds pass was stolen by Orlando’s Brian Williams. Mark Acres knocked down one of two free throws for the Magic. Chicago was unable to get a tying three-pointer on the game’s final possession.
Terry Catledge led the way for the Magic with 20 points, but it was Williams and Roberts who came up big down the stretch. Williams finished with 19 points, including 11 in the final quarter. Roberts scored 10 in the fourth period to finish with 18 points for the evening. Anthony Bowie, Sam Vincent and Skiles added 13, 12 and 11 points, respectively, in the win.
For Pippen, his only two turnovers proved costly on a night in which he led all scorers with 27 points. Michigan Jordan added 25 points and 15 rebounds for the Bulls. Horace Grant finished with 19 points in a losing effort.
The incredible comeback signified no change of fortunes. The Magic went on to lose their next five games during a 21-61 season. Chicago, on the other hand, went on to win its second of three straight NBA championships.
For one night however, it was the Magic that were celebrating at Chicago Stadium. It was their first-ever win in Chicago and required a comeback for the ages. It happened on this day three decades ago.