For the Orlando Magic, Valentine’s Day has had its quirks over the years. In 1990, Chicago Bulls star Michael Jordan was infamously forced to wear a nameless No. 12 jersey after his came up missing at Orlando Arena.
On this day 30 years ago, the Magic played their first triple-overtime game. Shaquille O’Neal bounced back from a poor offensive start with several key defensive plays down the stretch as the Magic topped the New York Knicks, 102-100.
Offensively, the contest was far from a thing of beauty at Orlando Arena on Feb. 14, 1993. The Magic led 58-54 at the end of three quarters, but most of the final period was dominated by the Knicks. New York led by six with 50 seconds left, but Nick Anderson’s 3-pointer with less than nine seconds remaining knotted the score at 79.
For most of the night, O’Neal was outplayed by New York standout center Patrick Ewing. With time ticking away in regulation, however, O’Neal was able to block Ewing’s shot to force overtime.
During regulation, O’Neal went just 3-for-17 from the field, but in the extra periods, he came through at both ends of the floor. O’Neal scored 13 points over the three overtimes and blocked six shots.
In the first overtime, the Magic trailed by as many as five, but after Ewing fouled out with 13.7 seconds left, O’Neal came through to tie the game in an uncharacteristic way – at the foul line. The big man cashed in on two clutch free throws to tie the score at 90.
In the second overtime, the Knicks again had a chance to win at the buzzer, but O’Neal was able to swat away John Starks’ jumper to preserve the 98-98 tie. In the third overtime, the teams combined for just six points. The good news for the Magic is that they had four of those points.
O’Neal scored all four Orlando points in the third overtime with the last coming with 1:15 remaining. With 36 seconds left, he blocked Herb Williams’ jumper to help preserve the victory. Greg Anthony would get an open look for three that would have won the game, but it was an air-ball.
O’Neal finished a blocked shot shy of a triple-double, totaling 21 points, 19 rebounds, and nine blocks. Anderson led Orlando with 24 points, seven assists, and four steals while Donald Royal came up big off the Magic bench with 15 points. Scott Skiles added 14 points. Anthony Bowie and Tom Tolbert each finished with 11 in the victory.
Ewing had a big night for the Knicks with 34 points, 14 rebounds and four blocks before fouling out. Starks added 26 points, but on just 10-for-36 shooting. Anthony and Anthony Mason each scored 10 in the loss.
For Orlando, the victory not only served as its first triple-overtime game, but it ended the Knicks’ 7-game winning streak. It came on this day three decades ago.