Denton: Friday's Finish Was Special Treat For All Those In Attendance


Officially, there were 15,595 fans at the Amway Center, but years from now some 500,000 Central Floridians will claim to have been there as they replay the magical memory. The crowd was a couple of thousand short of a sellout, but the building was as loud and as into the game as it has been in years. Harris felt it, Vaughn enjoyed it and Oladipo said he was energized by the electricity of the atmosphere.

``We’re a very good home team and we have a great crowd every night that encourages us,’’ said Harris, whose Magic host powerhouse Indiana on Sunday at 6 p.m. ``We have to continue to play well at home and gradually get better on the road. That comes with establishing ourselves at home and playing as hard as we can for our fans.’’

Nights like Friday’s instant classic are why fans go to arenas rather than watching from their La-Z-Boy recliners. A thrilling finish like that one is why fans buy – and most importantly renew! – season tickets so that they don’t ever miss magical moments. Nights like Friday are why sports are so much better than anything Hollywood can ever produce because there are no scripts to follow and the endings are often unpredictable and even unimaginable.

The Magic are still very much a team in transition and have endured some rocky moments these past two seasons. But it’s undeniable that they finally have something in the works. Their collection of young talent seems to take a step forward every game – whether it’s Oladipo progressing at the point, Harkless becoming a better wing defender, Harris pouring in points in bunches and Kyle O’Quinn swatting shots or center Nikola Vucevic setting records with his rebounds. Don’t just believe me; take it from none other than Durant, who broke down the Magic roster as such: ``They have a really good team, but their record doesn’t tell how good a team they have from top to bottom. From Jameer (Nelson), to (Arron) Afflalo, Tobias Harris, Glen Davis and Vucevic – those guys have all put up big numbers in this league before. Afflalo is playing at an all-star level and Vucevic is one of the best centers in the league.’’

The Magic have enjoyed giddy times before as the 1995 and 2009 teams were steam-rolling to the NBA Finals. But there’s a certain charm to the current rebuilding roster because fans are allowed to get in on the start of something special being constructed from the ground up.

Assuredly there are still plenty of losses still to endure and growing pains to suffer through, but someday soon fans will be able to recall the process that it took to get back to the top. Certainly, nothing is guaranteed, but when future success comes – and it will come because of the Magic having the right management (Rob Hennigan), coaching (Vaughn) and playing pieces (Oladipo, Afflalo, Harris, etc.) in place – it will be all the more gratifying.

Who knows? Years from now we might look back at Friday’s fantastic finish as a turning point in the Magic’s development from boys to NBA men. Oladipo-to-Harkless-to-Harris could be the springboard for bigger and better things to come. Durant was there to see it, as was Verlander, Upton and Revis along with nearly 16,000 Magic fans.

Plenty of seats still remain on the Magic bandwagon, and everyone is welcome to jump on board. The Magic train is picking up speed and steaming forward down the tracks. If you don’t want to be left behind and potentially miss out on magic moments like the one Friday night produced, you’d be wise to hop on board now.

After all, you’re going to want to watch what’s dead ahead.



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