This week the Magic get a standing ovation from Steve Clifford in the photo above for their recent play.
Orlando has won five of their last six games, including three victories in a row for just the 13th time since the beginning of the 2012-2013 season. If they can manage a victory in New Orleans on Tuesday, the Magic will earn their third winning streak of four games or more over the last seven seasons.
Point being? Winning streaks haven’t happened very often in these parts since Dwight Howard skipped town. This one comes at an ideal time as the Magic are making a push for the eighth spot in the East, sitting two games behind the Detroit Pistons.
Adding to the excitement, even with Orlando still seven games under .500, is the strong play of Jonathan Isaac, and the lottery ticket the Magic now hold in their back pocket with the addition of Markelle Fultz. A storybook ending would have Fultz coming back at some point after the All-Star break to propel the Magic into the playoffs for the first time since 2012.
That’s getting way too ahead of ourselves. For now, let’s just take a look at how the Magic fared in NBA Power Rankings around the web this week. Click on each publication for the full rankings...
ESPN - Magic jump from 23 to 22
The Magic took advantage of their unique situation to take a low-risk, huge-reward swing at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Markelle Fultz. Fultz ranked as the best draft prospect and went with the first overall pick in 2017. If he is able to regain his health and form in Orlando, outside of the spotlight and expectations of the larger Philadelphia market, then the Magic could have the future perimeter leader they have needed to complement their talented, young crew of big men. -- Andre Snellings
NBA.com - Magic jump from 23 to 18
The Magic made a for-the-future move by trading for Markelle Fultz on Thursday, but their veteran core stayed largely intact (they only traded the guy who ranks last in effective field goal percentage this season) and they’ve won five of their last six games to stay in the Eastern Conference playoff picture. The leading scorer over the 5-1 stretch has been the guy -- Terrence Ross (21.3 points per game and twice as many 3-pointers as any teammate) -- they most easily could have traded for a Draft pick or two at the deadline. They clearly want to end their six-year playoff drought and they have a favorable schedule going forward, with only eight of their 25 remaining games against teams that are currently over .500. One team in their way is the seventh-place Hornets, who they host on Thursday, with Charlotte having won the last 13 head-to-head meetings. -- John Schuuhmann
Sports Illustrated - Magic jump from 22 to 21
Jonathan Isaac is not here for John Collins trying to dunk while he’s on the court. I am here for this big man battle continuing for years to come. I’m also here for taking a shot on Markelle Fultz. If he works out, great. Maybe the Magic will have a dynamic point guard for the future to excite the crowd. If he still can’t get his shoulder together, it can’t be worse than the last six seasons have been. -- Khadrice Rollins
The Athletic - Magic remain at 24
Don’t look now but thanks to the mediocrity and apathy of the backend of the Eastern Conference, the Orlando Magic find themselves right in the thick of the East playoff race. I don’t mean the tone of that to sound as dismissive as Magic fans might take it, but the Magic are also seven games under .500 and just 1.5 games behind Miami for the 8-seed. You still get to collect playoff revenue checks, even if it’s by default. Orlando has won four out of its last five games, which in the back end of the East feels like a 10-game winning streak. They’re pretty much all quality wins too. They beat Indiana right before the Pacers figured things out again. They took down Brooklyn before losing at Oklahoma City. Then they handled Minnesota before beating a Giannis-less Milwaukee team on Saturday.
The next question for the Magic is how they integrate Markelle Fultz into everything. This was a pretty solid swing for the fences by Orlando. -- Zach Harper
CBS Sports - Magic at 24
I absolutely love that the Magic traded for Markelle Fultz. First of all, the first-rounder included in the deal isn’t a particularly valuable one; it’s Oklahoma City’s 2019 first-rounder, protected for 1-20. Second of all, I’m not sure if you could find a better fit for Fultz. He needed a change of scenery. Now he’ll be out of the big-city limelight and in the nurturing environment around Steve Clifford and a team that’s patient with building for the future. Sure, I wish this team had gotten assets for Nikola Vucevic, but him being an All-Star might have upped his value to where teams didn’t want to pony up that much for him. -- Reid Forgrave
Rotoworld - Magic at 22
Many pundits believed the Magic would trade away either Terrence Ross and/or starting center, and pending unrestricted free agent, Nikola Vucevic by Thursday’s deadline. Instead, Orlando decided they’d build towards the future by trading for Markelle Fultz, and also make a run at the playoffs this year. Winners in four of their last five games, the Magic have crept back within six games of .500 and are just 2.5 games behind Miami and Detroit for the eight seed in the East. -- Tommy Beer
UPROXX - Magic jump from 21 to 18
Somehow, the Magic have a realistic chance to make the playoffs. In fact, FiveThirtyEight gives Orlando a 42 percent chance at a postseason berth as of Feb. 12 and that number is on the rise after the team won five of six games. Make no mistake, it would be weird if the Magic were in the playoffs with their current performance level but it’s officially in play. -- Brad Rowland