The Orland Magic will open the 2021-22 season on Wednesday night in the Lone Star State against the San Antonio Spurs.
Orlando will look to start the season with a win for the fifth straight year. This however, will be the first time that the Magic have opened on the road since the 2014-15 campaign.
Over the years, there have been some memorable moments and performances on opening night. Here’s a look at the franchise’s individual records for each major statistical category in season openers:
Points (tie): 42, Nick Anderson vs. Miami Heat (Nov. 6, 1992) and Shaquille O’Neal at Miami Heat (Nov. 5, 1993)
The two best opening-night scoring efforts in Orlando history took place in back-to-back years and both against the Miami Heat. To open the 1992-93 season, Nick Anderson filled up the box score in a 110-100 victory, which included a 42-point effort. Anderson was 17-for-26 from the field and 3-for-6 from deep. Anderson would have had an even bigger night had he not shot 5-for-12 from the free throw line.
The following year, Shaquille O’Neal kicked off his second season in the NBA with a similar effort. In a 116-96 victory, O’Neal was 17-for-24 from the field to go with a team-high 12 rebounds. O’Neal was known as a poor foul shooter, but actually had a better night from the line than Anderson did the year prior. He finished 8-for-13.
Rebounds: 23, Nikola Vucevic at New Orleans Pelicans (Oct. 29, 2014)
In the Magic’s last season opener on the road, Nikola Vucevic had a monster night on the glass. In addition to 15 points and four blocks, Vucevic grabbed 23 rebounds, including five on the offensive end. On the other side, Anthony Davis and Omer Asik each recorded 17 rebounds for the New Orleans Pelicans. New Orleans won the game easily, 101-84.
Assists: 13, Scott Skiles vs. Miami Heat (Nov. 6, 1992)
Unsurprisingly, the man who holds the NBA single-game record for assists also holds the Magic opening-night record for that category. In the aforementioned 110-100 win over the Miami Heat to kick off the 1992-93 season, Skiles delivered 13 dimes. Skiles was a big reason why Orlando shot 59% from the field and 7-for-12 from deep. The only other Orlando player to record double-digit assists on opening night was Grant Hill, who did so in his Magic debut.
Steals (tie): 5, Nick Anderson vs. Miami Heat (Nov. 6, 1992) and Dwight Howard vs. Atlanta Hawks (Oct. 29, 2008)
The first player ever drafted by the Orlando Magic, Nick Anderson holds not one but two opening-night records for the franchise. The 1992-93 opener makes a third appearance on the list. In addition to scoring 42 points, Anderson grabbed eight rebounds, dished out six assists and recorded five steals. Anderson is still the franchise’s all-time leader in steals.
Center Dwight Howard was an outstanding defensive player, but wasn’t really known for filling up the steals column in the box score. Regardless, Howard finished with five in a 99-85 loss to the Atlanta Hawks to open the 2008-09 season. That night, Howard also paced the Magic with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Orlando started that season 0-2, but bounced back to finish 59-23 and reach the NBA Finals.
Blocks: 7, Dwight Howard vs. Milwaukee Bucks (Oct. 31, 2007)
Howard topping this category comes as less of a surprise. In a 102-83 home win over the Milwaukee Bucks to open the 2007-08 season, Howard finished with seven blocks to go with 16 points and 12 rebounds. While Howard dominated on the defensive end, it was Rashard Lewis who paced Orlando offensively in his Magic debut. Lewis scored a game-high 26 points on 9-for-13 shooting and 4-for-5 from deep. It was also Stan Van Gundy’s head coaching debut with Orlando.