The Orlando Magic's season didn't go as well as many of their fans may have hoped, but they at least gave their supporters several memorable individual performances. Based on GameScore, a John Hollinger-devised metric about which you can read more at basketball-reference.com, here's a countdown of the five best performances by Magic players in a single 2013/14 game.
No. 5: Victor Oladipo against Cleveland Cavaliers, 13 December 2013; GameScore: 27.3
Orlando squandered this game by yielding 36 points in the fourth quarter at home to the Cavaliers, who finished the season in the Draft Lottery, but Oladipo nonetheless came up big with one of the most productive and efficient outings of his rookie campaign. In 37 minutes, Orlando's top first-year player scored 26 points on 13 field-goal attempts, but he made his presence felt outside the scoring column as well: he added five rebounds, four assists, four steals, and three blocked shots to those totals, and he accounted for five of the Magic's 16 free-throw attempts.
Ultimately, neither he nor any of Orlando's other defenders could contain the dribble penetration of Dion Waiters or Kyrie Irving, particularly late in the game, leading to Orlando's loss. Still, there's no arguing against Oladipo's efficiency and productivity at the other end of the floor.
No. 4: Nik Vučević against Los Angeles Clippers, 6 November 2013; GameScore: 28.0
Working primarily against DeAndre Jordan, the league's runner-up for Defensive Player of the Year, Vučević had a career night in the Magic's early-season upset of the Clippers. The third-year center shot 11-of-19 from the floor for a career-best 30 points and 21 rebounds, but none of his baskets proved more important than the long deuce he hit with 1:04 to play. That shot gave Orlando a three-point lead and prompted him to pump his fist as the Clippers retreated to their timeout huddle.
He'd close out the night by sinking six straight free throws as L.A. played the foul game in an ultimately futile attempt to turn the odds in their favor. Magic coach Jacque Vaughn credited Vučević's aggressiveness for keying his outstanding showing.
"He looked over at me and wanted me to call his number," said Vaughn. "That's a first in our time together and so it's great to see and great to be a part of."
No. 3: Oladipo against New York Knicks, 21 February 2014; GameScore: 30.6
Oladipo led Orlando back from the brink of defeat in this thrilling, double-overtime victory, tallying 30 points, nine rebounds, and 14 assists overall to become the youngest player since 1985/86 to reach those markers in a single game.
Oladipo's nine-point fourth quarter enabled Orlando to erase what had been a nine-point deficit in the period and a 14-point deficit in the first three. New York was helpless to contain his dribble penetration, which weakness the Indiana product did well to exploit time and again down the stretch.
Oladipo capped this performance by scoring eight points in the second overtime, accounting for half of Orlando's total and matching the Knicks' himself.
No. 2: Arron Afflalo at Philadelphia 76ers, 3 December 2013; GameScore: 32.0
The rookie battle between Oladipo and the Sixers' Michael Carter-Williams overshadowed Afflalo's brilliance in Philadelphia's narrow win here, but GameScore doesn't know about that history-making showdown. In this double-overtime corker, Afflalo became the first Orlando player in the post-Dwight Howard era to eclipse the 40-point barrier by popping off for 43 points on 14-of-27 shooting, including 5-of-13 from three-point range.
Afflalo also showcased his other skills in this game, contributing six rebounds, five assists, and two steals in 52 hard-fought minutes. The Magic came up one point short here, but don't pin that failure on Afflalo.
No. 1: Afflalo against Milwaukee Bucks, 13 November 2013; GameScore: 34.1
GameScore loves Afflalo's efficiency in this game: he needed just 15 shot attempts to tally a game-high 36 points as he absolutely caught fire from beyond the arc, connecting on eight three-pointers in 11 attempts; you can watch each make in this video. "It was fortunate that my three-ball was going down tonight," said Afflalo afterward in an early candidate for Magic Understatement of the Season.
Due largely to Afflalo's eruption, the Magic rallied back from a 13-point deficit after the first period to defeat the Bucks, who finished the season with the league's worst overall record.
We've heard what GameScore has to say about Magic players' top performances in 2013/14. Now it's your turn: what individual outing stood out the most to you in the just-concluded season? Please vote in the poll embedded in this post.