What an up-and-down season it was for the Orlando Magic and their fans, from losing at league-worst Charlotte one night to winning at powerhouse Chicago two nights later. Here are my choices, along with a brief summary, of their best and worst games of the season.The Magic lost seven games by 20+ points this season, but here are my choices for the worst games for the Magic in 2012, in no particular order:
-January 27th: New Orleans 93, Magic 67... The Hornets, one of the worst teams in the league, broke a nine-game losing streak at the expense of the Magic. Orlando shot 39% and committed 23 turnovers, with Dwight Howard the only Magic player in double figures. Howard called out his teammates in an interview after the game.
-March 6th: Charlotte 100, Magic 84... The league-worst Bobcats came into the game having lost 21 of their previous 22 games, and found themselves trailing the Magic by 20 points in the second quarter. Incredibly, the Magic would get outscored 81-45 after that, including 16-2 to end the game. Charlotte would win only two more games after this, as they broke the all-time record for the worst winning percentage in a season.
-January 23rd: Boston 87, Magic 56... The Magic came into the game having won 6 of their previous 7 games, so this pitiful performance from Orlando against the Celtics was totally unexpected. The Magic set franchise marks for fewest points scored in a game, fewest points scored in a second half (20 points), and worst shooting percentage in a game (24.6%). They also committed 25 turnovers.
-January 26th: Boston 91, Magic 83... The Magic, at home, trying to make up for their record-setting futility against the Celtics three days earlier, were blowing out the Celtics by 27 points, 52-25, in the second quarter. The Magic appeared to be on their way to an easy win as they led 58-37 at the half, but in the second half, the Magic totally collapsed, scoring a total of 25 points, including 8 in the fourth quarter as Boston stunningly pulled away. The Celtics outscored the Magic 66-31 in the final 27 minutes.
-March 19th: Chicago 85, Magic 59... The Magic, at home, were playing a Bulls team who were without reigning MVP Derrick Rose. Orlando had beaten the Bulls in Chicago with Rose just 11 days earlier, but in this game, the Magic shot just 35%, including 4 of 20 on threes, and committed 19 turnovers, while scoring just 26 second-half points. The 59 points tied for the second-fewest points the Magic have ever scored in a home game.
My choices for the five best games for the Magic in 2012, in no particular order:
-January 12th: Magic 117, Golden State 109... The Warriors figured that their best chance to win this game would be to foul Magic center Dwight Howard, and they did so at almost every opportunity. The result was that Howard smashed the previous NBA record for most free throws attempted in a game, as he went 21 of 39 from the charity stripe, breaking Wilt Chamberlain's previous record of 34 free throw attempts. Howard had a monster game of 45 points and 23 rebounds.
-February 11th: Magic 99, Milwaukee 94... This was a blast from the past for shooting guard Jason Richardson, as he was absolutely unconscious from outside, making 8 of 9 three-pointers in the second half to torch the Bucks, along with 28 of his Magic career-high 31 points. J-Rich made 9 of 11 threes for the game. The Magic came back from a 10-point deficit with under six minutes remaining.
-March 8th: Magic 99, Chicago 94... Even though the Bulls were playing their 4th game in 5 nights and were coming off a tough game the previous night, this was still an impressive win for Orlando. The Magic stunned the Bulls in Chicago to end the Bulls' 8 game winning streak, and came just two nights after the Orlando's embarrassing loss in Charlotte. The Bulls overcame a 15-point deficit to take the lead with under three minutes remaining, but the Magic did not panic and outscored the Bulls 10-3 to close out the game. Howard had another big game with 29 points, 18 rebounds.
February 8th: Magic 102, Miami 89... Solid win by the Magic over LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and the rival Heat, as the 4-out-1-in game worked nearly to perfection for the Magic. Dwight Howard scored 25 points along with 24 rebounds, Ryan Anderson had a game-high 27 points and added 11 rebounds, and the Magic made 17 three-pointers in a team record 42 attempts.
March 13th: Magic 104, Miami 98 (OT)... The Magic defeated the rival Heat for the second time in the season, and overcame a 14-point first half deficit for their 5th win in 6 games. Howard had another monster game of 24 points, 25 rebounds, 3 steals, 2 blocks. Jameer Nelson led the Magic with 25 points, and the Magic made 11 threes.
Just two days later after this victory, Howard waived the Early Termination Option on his contract to ensure he would be on the team through 2013, and gave the Magic and their fans hope of a possible long playoff run this season. However, his surgery for a herniated disk in his back a month later quickly put to rest any hopes of playoff success for the Magic, as they were fortunate to win one game against the Indiana Pacers.