Orlando Magic Rewatchables: Orlando Magic dethrones Michael Jordan, Chicago Bulls

The Orlando Magic hold the final playoff series win over Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic hold the final playoff series win over Michael Jordan's Chicago Bulls. (Photo credit should read TONY RANZE/AFP via Getty Images) /
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What Happened?

The place to start for those that have not seen this series is a breakdown of each game.

The Orlando Magic entered the year as the up-and-coming team. They had made their first playoffs in 1994 and everyone sensed this team was going to take the mantle eventually with Shaquille O’Neal already a force in Year 3 of his career and Anfernee Hardaway turning in a solid rookie season.

The Magic added veteran leadership in Horace Grant and Brian Shaw in the offseason. But nobody saw what would come down the pike with this group.

The Orlando Magic won 59 games that season, beating the New York Knicks for the Atlantic Division title and gaining the top seed in the East. They had an explosive offense that overwhelmed teams with their brute force inside and speed on the perimeter. Not to mention some strong shooting (for the time).

It felt like the Magic had skipped a step, leapfrogging established teams in the Eastern Conference pecking order. Everyone figured their youth would catch up to them.

Maybe it did in Game 2 of the first round as the 35-47 Boston Celtics defeated the Orlando Magic at the Orlando Arena to even the series. The Magic needed two close wins to close the Boston Garden to advance in the best-of-5 series.

The Magic won their first playoff series — a vital first step for a young team. But nobody was feeling especially confident.

Especially with the Chicago Bulls starting to look like their normal selves.

The Bulls started the year as a favorite in the Eastern Conference, but beneath the upper tier. They had survived their first season without Michael Jordan and were still a tough out.

Then Jordan faxed, “I’m back” with 17 games left and the Bulls seemed off to the races as they worked Jordan back into the mix.

Chicago went 13-4 to finish the season including Jordan’s famous “double-nickel” game at Madison Square Garden. Jordan was back, averaging 26.9 points per game. And this was Jordan who was not “back.”

The Chicago Bulls made quick work of the Charlotte Hornets in four games in the first round, stealing homecourt advantage in a 108-100 overtime win in Game 1. Setting up the battle in the second round between past, present and (who knows?) future.

Game 1 — Orlando Magic 94, Chicago Bulls 91

We will talk about this game a bit later on. We talk about this game for two hours above. This was a statement game for the Magic and proof they could compete with the mighty Bulls. Even if they needed Nick Anderson to steal the game in the end.

Game 2 — Chicago Bulls 104, Orlando Magic 94

Michael Jordan ripped his warmups off in the starting lineup introductions and revealed he had switched from No. 45 to No. 23. It was that moment that Nick Anderson knew this game was over. Jordan scored 38 points to tie the series.

Game 3 — Orlando Magic 110, Chicago Bulls 101

The Magic show their youth early on as the Bulls’ press stakes them a double-digit lead. Orlando played most of the first half in this series from behind. But Orlando kept fighting back. The Magic outlasted the Bulls making some big shots down the stretch and holding off Jordan at the end despite his 40 points.

Game 4 — Chicago Bulls 106, Orlando Magic 95

Chicago and Orlando often played really sloppy. It was turnovers in the dying moments that cost either team their games throughout the series. Game 4 was Orlando’s time to make mistakes. Shaquille O’Neal committed a critical turnover — one of 22 — down the stretch that was just too much for Orlando to overcome.

Game 5 — Orlando Magic 103, Chicago Bulls 95

In another back-and-forth first half, the Magic gave a hint of what the league was going to become. Dennis Scott scores 22 points and hits five 3-pointers to key a third-quarter run that gave the Magic firm control of the game and the series.

Game 6 — Orlando Magic 108, Chicago Bulls 102

It looked like the Bulls would force a Game 7 and force the Magic to really stand up to the Jordan-led Bulls. Chicago got Scottie Pippen going at last and he led the Bulls to an eight-point lead. Then the Magic go on a 14-0 run to win the game with O’Neal leading the way with 29 points. The Magic stun the United Center crowd and advance to the Eastern Conference Finals.