In honor of the Magic’s 30th anniversary, we are counting down the top 30 games in franchise history.
It may seem like a lifetime ago considering the team’s current never-ending rebuild, but over the last three decades, there have been quite a few memorable moments in Magic history. Whether it was a crucial playoff victory, a dominant individual performance, or even a devastating loss. Yes, there are actually some Magic losses included in this list. They may bring back painful memories, but they are classic games nonetheless.
So check out Part I of the Top 30 games feature and take a trip down memory lane and relive these Magic moments. Also be sure to check out Aaron Goldstone’s ranking of the Top 30 Players in Magic History.
Share your thoughts and memories below. Let the countdown begin....
20. Not your typical triple-doubles (November 20, 1993 and February 23, 2003)
Many have posted triple-doubles in a Magic uniform. Nikola Vucevic, Steve Francis, Brian Shaw, Sam Vincent, Dwight Howard, Anthony Bowie, Nick Anderson, Scott Skiles, Penny Hardaway, Victor Oladipo, Bo Outlaw, Hedo Turkoglu, Elfrid Payton. The argument over which was the most dominant in franchise history comes down to two, with both, oddly enough, being against the Nets:
Shaquille O’Neal: 24 points, 28 rebounds, 15 blocks in an 87-85 win over the Nets
Tracy McGrady: 46 points, 13 assists, 10 rebounds in a 113-105 win over the Nets
While Shaq and T-Mac may have the most dominant triple-doubles, it is Anthony Bowie who may very well have the most famous triple-double in franchise history....
19. Again, not your typical triple-doubles (March 29, 2017 and January 30, 2018)
As good as Shaq and T-Mac’s triple-doubles were, these two were even better. Even though they came against the Magic. You don’t have to dig deep in the memory banks to remember the legendary performances by Russell Westbrook and James Harden.
Westbrook posted 57 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists for his 38th triple-double of the season to lead the Thunder to a 114-106 overtime win over the Magic. Westbrook drained an off-balance three with seconds remaining to send the game to overtime as the Thunder erased a 21-point deficit.
James Harden’s topped Westbrook, at least from a scoring perspective, just 10 months later, tallying the first 60-point triple-double in league history. Harden had 60 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds in the Rocket’s 114-107 win over the Magic, shooting 19-of-30 from the field and 17-for-18 from the free throw line.
18. Penny beats the clock and the Bulls (February 26, 1995)
With the Magic playing without Shaquille O’Neal and Horace Grant (and the Bulls playing without Michael Jordan, who would return to the NBA about three weeks later), Penny Hardaway had a career night. He scored a then career-high 39 points, capped by a go-ahead breakaway dunk with 0.7 seconds left to give the Magic a 105-103 win.
17. Magic win despite 64 points from the GOAT (January 16, 1993)
Michael Jordan scored over 60 points only a handful of times in his career. And one of them came against the Magic. In a loss! Jordan scored 64 points, the second highest scoring game of his career behind the 69 points he scored against Cleveland in 1990. He shot 27 of 49 from the field (1 of 5 from three), and made 9 of 11 free throws. But the Magic prevailed with a 128-124 overtime win over the defending champs thanks to a monster game from rookie Shaquille O’Neal, who had 29 points, 24 rebounds and five blocks. Scott Skiles also had a big night with 31 points and 10 assists.
And here’s a bonus Orlando Magic-Michael Jordan game: when Jordan was forced to wear the number 12 in Orlando because someone stole his jersey...
16. 30 assists (December 30, 1990)
Scott Skiles had 30 assists in a 155-116 victory over the Denver Nuggets, setting an NBA record that still stands today. On the Magic’s final possession, Skiles pushed the ball up court and passed to Jerry Reynolds, who hit the jumper with 19 seconds left for the 30th assist, breaking the previous record of 29 set in 1978 by Kevin Porter of the New Jersey Nets. Reynolds led the Magic with 27 points and Terry Catledge added 25. Skiles also had 22 points and six rebounds. The closest a player has come to breaking Skiles’ record was in 1991 when John Stockton had 28 assists. Check out an oral history of the 30-assist game, courtesy of Josh Robbins of the Orlando Sentinel.
15. T-Mac puts the 8th-seeded Magic on the brink (April 27, 2003)
With a 100-92 victory over the top-seeded Detroit Pistons in Game 4 of the first round, the Magic took a 3-1 series lead, one victory away from becoming just the third eighth seed to upset the one seed (and first since the league expanded to a seven-game series in the first round). Tracy McGrady had 27 points and nine assists, Drew Gooden had 20 points and 13 rebounds and Darrell Armstrong added 18 points. Sadly, the Magic went on to lose the next three games, including Game 6 at home. McGrady, who never advanced beyond the first round with the Magic, averaged 31.7 points, 6.7 rebounds and 4.7 assists in the series.
14. Dwight Howard’s buzzer-beating alley-oop (February 9, 2007)
With the Magic and Spurs tied at 104 with 0.8 seconds left, Hedo Turkoglu lobbed an in-dounds pass to Dwight Howard, who elevated to a height that Tim Duncan could only dream of and threw down the one-handed alley-oop with 0.2 seconds left for a 106-104 win over one of the league’s elite. Howard had 30 points and Jameer Nelson had 31.
13. The Olajuwon tip-in -- a.k.a. The Nick Anderson Game (June 7, 1995)
This one hurts, but it was a classic. The Magic were up by three with just under 10 seconds remaining in Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals. Nick Anderson, a 70.4 percent free throw shooter that season, missed two free throws, grabbed the offensive rebound and missed two more. Kenny Smith then hit a three with 1.6 seconds left to send the game to overtime. With the Rockets up three in overtime, Dennis Scott drained a three with 5.5 seconds left to even the score at 118. On the ensuing possession, Clyde Drexler missed a runner and Hakeem Olajuwon converted a tip-in with 0.3 seconds left to give the Rockets a 120-118 win. Olajuwon had 31 points, Drexler had 23 points and 11 assists, and Smith had 23 points (including seven threes, a then NBA Finals record). Shaquille O’Neal had 26 points, 16 rebounds and nine assists, Penny Hardaway had 26 points and five assists, and Horace Grant added 16 points and 15 rebounds. While all anyone remembers is the missed free throws, Anderson actually had a strong game overall with 22 points, 11 rebounds and five assists. Of course, had he made just one...
12. The Magic win Game 7 in Boston (May 17, 2009)
The Magic’s run to the 2009 NBA Finals required a series comeback against the Celtics in the second round. After Boston took a 3-2 series lead, Dwight Howard powered the Magic to a 83-75 win in Game 6 with 23 points, 22 rebounds and five blocks. That set the stage for Game 7 in Boston. The Magic led for all but about 90 seconds thanks to a 22-9 run to open the game. Hedo Turkoglu led all scorers with 25 points and added 12 assists to send the Magic to the Eastern Conference Finals.
11. The Magic win a game in the NBA Finals (June 9, 2009)
Trailing 0-2 in the 2009 NBA Finals to the Los Angeles Lakers, the Magic won Game 3, 108-104, behind a balanced scoring attack. Rashard Lewis had 21 points, including a straightaway jumper (foot on the line) with 1:06 remaining to give the Magic a 104-101 lead. Dwight Howard had 21 points and 14 rebounds and helped strip Kobe Bryant with 30 seconds left to protect the Magic’s two-point lead. Rafer Alston added 20 points and Hedo Turkoglu and Michael Pitrus each added 18 points. The win kept the Magic’s title hopes alive but it was the last in what must be considered the most successful season in franchise history. That the win was sandwiched between two heartbreaking overtime losses (a Courtney Lee missed lay-in in Game 2 and Dwight Howard’s missed free throws in Game 4), makes you realize just how close the Magic were to a championship.
Be sure to check back soon for the third and final installment of the Magic’s top 30 games.