Shaquille O’Neal became the star of the Orlando Magic franchise as a rookie during the 1992-93 season, but one might argue that in the clutch, no player was more valuable than guard Nick Anderson.
The first-ever draft pick of the Magic, Anderson came through late time and time again that season, including on this day 30 years ago. With less than two seconds remaining, Anderson banked home a 3-pointer to lift Orlando to a thrilling 92-91 victory over the Washington Bullets.
With more than four minutes to play on Feb. 26, 1993, the Magic had to be feeling good about their chances to leave Landover with a win. Orlando led 86-80, but Washington responded with a 10-1 run.
Tom Gugliotta, who finished with 21 points, scored to give the Bullets an 88-87 lead. His basket was followed by another from Buck Johnson to push the lead to three.
O’Neal led the Magic with 28 points and 11 rebounds. After his final basket of the night cut the deficit to 90-89, Michael Adams split a pair of free throws for Washington with 4.4 seconds left. That set the stage for Anderson to be the hero.
Well beyond the 3-point arc and without hesitation, Anderson caught the inbounds pass and fired from deep. The shot hit glass before falling through to put the Magic ahead for good with just 1.8 seconds remaining.
Anderson finished with 13 points on just 5-for-15 shooting, but led Orlando with six assists and two steals. Guards Scott Skiles (20) and Anthony Bowie (15) combined for 35 points in the victory.
Gugliotta was one of three Washington players to finish with at least 20 points. Gugliotta also led the team with 16 rebounds. LaBradford Smith finished with a team-high 22 points and six steals. Adams added 20 points and seven assists.
Throughout the course of the 1992-93 season, Orlando went a perfect 4-0 against the Bullets. The closest of those four meetings was decided by a banked-in 3-pointer by Anderson and on this day three decades ago.