While Chicago Bulls guard Michael Jordan may have been the face of the NBA in the 1990s, the era was also rich with talented big men.
On this day, two of those big men put on a show as rookie Shaquille O’Neal of the Orlando Magic and New York Knicks superstar Patrick Ewing duked it out. In the end, it was a three-pointer by Dennis Scott that helped Orlando erase a 12-point fourth-quarter deficit for a 95-94 victory.
Scott led all scorers with 29 points in the contest at Orlando Arena on Jan. 8, 1993. Scott scored 15 of those points in the third period, but that didn’t stop the Knicks from extending their five-point halftime lead to 79-67 at the end of three quarters.
New York maintained a double-digit lead midway through the final period, but a 14-3 run to end the game for Orlando would ultimately propel the home team to victory. After O’Neal’s turnaround over Ewing cut the lead to one, Scott capped the scoring with a three-pointer to give the Magic a 95-94 lead with 43 seconds remaining.
On the game’s decisive possession, Ewing called for the ball in the post against O’Neal. Ewing tried to draw contact as the two behemoths slugged it out down low. The New York star was forced to take an off-balanced hook, which clanked off the rim. O’Neal grabbed the rebound and dribbled out the clock to secure the Magic victory.
Ewing led the Knicks with 21 points and 12 rebounds. O’Neal was up to the task with 22 points, 13 rebounds and five blocks.
Aside from O’Neal and Scott, who hit all four of Orlando’s three-pointers, Terry Catledge was the only other Magic player to score in double figures. Catledge finished with 10 points and seven boards off the Orlando bench.
Rolando Blackman and Charles Smith each added 18 points for the Knicks in the loss. Greg Anthony finished with 11 points and a game-high 15 assists.
O’Neal would go on to win NBA Rookie of the Year for the 1992-93 season. The Magic and Knicks would split four meetings during that season with each team winning at home and three of those contests being decided by two points or less. The closest matchup and first in Orlando was decided by a late trey from Scott on this day a quarter-century ago.