Drafting Shaquille O’Neal first overall certainly helped matters, but the Orlando Magic had their first real taste of success during the 1992-93 season. That year, the Magic finished 41-41 – their first non-losing season – and narrowly missed making the postseason.
Throughout what would be the final season under head coach Matt Goukas, the Magic had many memorable moments. One of those came on this day 30 years as Orlando overcame a 14-point fourth-quarter deficit to top the Sacramento Kings, 119-115.
Less than nine minutes remained at ARCO Arena on Feb. 1, 1993, and things appeared hopeless for the Magic. What had been an eight-point deficit at the start of the final quarter had become 14, but the Magic would control the rest of the game.
Behind a masterful effort from Nick Anderson and a willingness to attack the basket, Orlando willed its way back into the contest. The Magic shot 25 free throws in the final quarter and finished 41-for-57 from the charity stripe for the game.
Less than three minutes remained when a Scott Skiles 3-pointer put Orlando ahead for good, 106-105. Anderson, who led all scorers with 31 points, helped seal the win with three key free throws in the final seconds.
In addition to his 31 points, Anderson also led the Magic with 14 rebounds. O’Neal and Anthony Bowie each added 18 points in the win. Skiles, who dished out as game-high 15 assists, and Tom Tolbert each scored 16 points. Donald Royal finished with 11 points off the Orlando bench.
Making 24 more free throws than Sacramento was the difference for the Magic. Orlando shot 52% from the field while the Kings shot 51%. Mitch Richmond led the way with 28 points in the loss. Wayman Tisdale and Lionel Simmons added 25 and 23 points, respectively for Sacramento.
For the Magic, the comeback victory in California’s capital city evened their record at 19-19 and began a three-game West Coast winning streak. It came on this day three decades ago.