During the 1997 NBA Playoffs, guard Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway became the first Orlando Magic player to have a 40-point game in the playoffs. Two days later, he did it again.
On this day 25 years ago, Hardaway paced Orlando with 41 points as the Magic knocked off the Miami Heat, 99-91. The victory for the Magic forced a decisive Game 5 back in Miami.
After rallying from 20 points down to win Game 3, the Magic arrived at Orlando Arena on May 1, 1997 down two games to one and looking to even the series. In Game 4, Orlando led most of the way.
Hardaway set the tone for the Magic, scoring 18 points in the first quarter. He added four more during a 15-2 run to open the second quarter as the Magic built a 15-point lead.
The Magic led 53-39 at halftime, but in the third quarter, Miami got as close as four. Orlando however, scored on four straight possessions to push the lead to 73-64 after three.
In the final quarter, Hardaway again took over. After assisting on a jumper by Danny Schayes, Hardaway converted a three-point play to push the lead back to double digits.
Back-to-back three-pointers from Miami guard Tim Hardaway cut the deficit to five with just over two minutes remaining, but Penny Hardaway wouldn’t let the Magic lose. After knocking down a free throw, he came up with a big late steal. With 33 seconds left, he iced the game with a pair of foul shots.
Hardaway’s 41 points came with seven rebounds and four steals. Derek Strong added 15 points and eight rebounds in the victory.
Darrell Armstrong and Gerald Wilkins had strong games off the Orlando bench with 12 and 11 points, respectively. Armstrong led the team with nine rebounds. Schayes added 10 points in the win.
Miami was led by its frontcourt of Alonzo Mourning and P.J. Brown, who finished with 23 and 20 points, respectively, while each grabbing 13 rebounds. Jamal Mashburn and Tim Hardaway tallied 19 and 16 points, respectively, in the defeat.
Miami would ultimately win the series a couple days later in Game 5 back at Miami Arena. As for Penny Hardaway, he remains one of just two Orlando players to score 40 points in consecutive playoff games. He became the first to do so on this day a quarter-century ago.