If Scott Skiles pumped his fist once, he pumped it at least four timesWednesday night as the Orlando Magic rallied for a most implausible 135-129 overtime victory over the Chicago Bulls at Orlando Arena.
The Magic rallied from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter (84-70) and from 12 points down in the fourth quarter (96-84) to tie the score at 118-118 and send the game into overtime.
Then, with the rollicking sellout crowd making so much noise that Chicago coach Phil Jackson afterward threatened to file a complaint with the league office, the Magic scored the first eight points in overtime. Skiles started the run by hitting - what else - a three-pointer.
Skiles raised his fist to the arena roof each time he nailed a three-point jumper, each basket bringing the Magic closer to a win that once appeared out of the realm of probability.
"Anytime you beat the Chicago Bulls," Skiles said when it was over, "you have to be happy."
It was a night of vindication for Skiles, who became a go-to player on a night when starter Sam Vincent was unable to play in the second half because of a toe injury.
Skiles finished with 16 points - 13 in the second half - with 12 resulting from three-point bombs. He was 6-for-7 from the floor and hit all four of his three-point attempts.
Late in the fourth quarter, Skiles even had a play designed for him. Of course, he made the shot.
Magic coach Matt Guokas was ejected with 4:22 remaining in the third quarter and Chicago ahead 77-68. Following three foul shots and a basket by the Bulls, the deficit was 82-68. Assistant coach Bob Weiss took over on the bench.
Weiss made one thing clear: Give the ball to Skiles.
"This is the first time I can remember a coach designing a play for me to shoot a three-pointer," Skiles said.
Magic guard Reggie Theus, who had 28 points and a game-high eight assists, said he told Weiss the team didn't need a three-pointer at that point in the game.
Too late. Weiss had his mind made up.
"Bobby said, 'Go for it,' " Theus said.
That's all Skiles needed to hear.
"I'll make it if they throw it to me. I've always had good range.
I've had good range since I was 12 years old," Skiles said.
If Skiles was brilliant in a reserve role, then Theus, Sidney Green and Terry Catledge were outstanding as starters.
Green finished with 16 points and a franchise-record 19 rebounds.
Catledge collected 34 points and 11 rebounds.
It was easily one of the best performances this season by the Magic frontcourt. Since Green replaced Mark Acres in the starting lineup, the Magic has gone 4-4.
The win marked two victories in a row for the Magic (15-33), which rallied to defeat Philadelphia last week prior to the All-Star break.
Chicago (29-20) has lost five of its last six - all on the road.
The Bulls received a game-high 49 points from Michael Jordan, who was 21-of-43 from the floor.
"The frustration comes from losing a game that we should have won," said Jordan, who had his uniform stolen before the game and wore No. 12 instead of his usual No. 23. "I don't give a damn about the way that I played. We had our opportunities to win and we should have capitalized on them."
Chicago was hurt by a poor performance from Scottie Pippen, who scored 15 points but shot only 6-for-21. The Bulls shot 46.8 percent to 52.9 percent for the Magic.
The Magic outrebounded the Bulls (50-41) and was 41-for-54 from the foul line (75.9 percent). Chicago was 23-for-31 from the line.
The Magic led by as many as 11 points in the first half, but Chicago rallied to make it 60-52 at halftime.
Magic rookie Nick Anderson scored to cut the deficit to 77-68 in the third quarter, but Anderson was then called for a technical foul following a Magic turnover.
Guokas would also receive a technical from official Bernie Fryer.
Guokas was then ejected by another official, Blane Reichfelt, after picking up a second technical with 4:22 left in the quarter. Guokas was restrained from going after Reichfelt by Green along with Magic assistants Weiss and John Gabriel.
Jordan converted all three foul shots to give Chicago an 80-68 lead, Ed Nealy banged in a jumper, and Jordan scored again moments later to make it 84-70. The Bulls led 93-82 after three quarters.
But the Magic rallied. Theus, Catledge and Skiles combined for 17 points in four minutes to chop the Chicago lead to 102-99.
"When coach Guokas left the game, it got everybody fired up," Green said. "Everybody got involved."
Skiles drilled a jumper to make it 118-114, and Otis Smith hit two foul shots to pull the Magic within 118-116 with 57 seconds left in regulation.
Smith sent the game into overtime with a leaning 10-footer at the 28-second mark. From there, anything was possible.
"I've played a lot of games," said Theus, a 12-year veteran, "but this one was something really special."