Denton: Top 10 Magic Moments

By John Denton
April 12, 2011


ORLANDO – For a variety of reasons, the 2010-11 season will go down as an unforgetable season for the Orlando Magic and their fans.

First, there was the opening of the breathtaking Amway Center, an 875,000-square-foot gem of a facility that is already considered the best arena in the NBA and quite possibly all of North America.

The Magic had not one, but two games canceled all together – one in Tampa during the preseason because of an oily playing surface and a second one in New York when asbestos-like material fell through the roof during the renovation of Madison Square Garden.

The team had to walk to the arena in Newark, N.J., when their bus became stuck in the snow. And later in the season after a game in New York, the Magic’s travelling party had to assist an accident victim on the New Jersey Turnpike.

The Magic also shuffled the deck on a team that had won 59 games and reached the Eastern Conference Finals the previous season, trading away four players for four new ones on Dec. 18. The Magic got Hedo Turkoglu, Jason Richardson and Earl Clark from Phoenix for Vince Carter, Marcin Gortat and Mickael Pietrus. And Orlando also shipped Rashard Lewis to Washington for Gilbert Arenas.

A stretch of five losses in six games came before the trade, and another skid of three defeats came as the Magic got used to their new personnel. The Magic then put together a run of nine straight victories to equal the all-time franchise record. But since that win streak, the team has been hit or miss going 26-18 to lock up the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference.

Dwight Howard was suspended twice for his mounting technical fouls, but otherwise played like the best player in the NBA on a nightly basis. Jameer Nelson was clutch, Turkoglu was back thriving in a Magic uniform, while Ryan Anderson and Brandon Bass blossomed as first-time starters.

With the Magic (51-30) set to wrap up the regular season Wednesday night at the Amway Center against the Indiana Pacers, here is a look back at the Top 10 moments from the 2010-11 season:

1. Magic rally from 24-point deficit to win in Miami (March 3): A sluggish Magic team given up for dead when it trailed the rival Heat by 18 points at halftime and by as much as 24 points in the second half awoke from its slumber and pulled off a comeback win for the ages. Once down 73-49 early in the third quarter, the Magic used runs of 22-7 (to end the third period) and 18-2 (to start the fourth quarter) – a shocking 40-9 spurt in all – for what very well could be the biggest regular-season victory in franchise history. The 24-point rally just missed equaling the all-time Magic record. Orlando’s comeback from 25 points down on Nov. 8, 1989 in Cleveland is the all-time franchise record. Orlando held LeBron James and Dwyane Wade to just 10 points combined in the second half after the Heat duo had 47 points in the first half. Wade did not have a field goal in the second half and James did not score in the fourth quarter.

2. Magic open the Amway Center with 112-83 defeat of Washington (Oct. 28): After spending its first 22 seasons at Amway Arena, the Magic opened a new era at the state-of-the-art Amway Center on Oct. 28. Magic owner Rich DeVos and NBA Commissioner David Stern addressed the crowd before the game and thanked the leaders of Orlando and Orange County for building a facility widely considered to be the best facility in North America. Magic President Alex Martins, the man behind the design and day-to-day construction of the 875,000-square-foot arena, had tears in his eyes as the Magic tipped off the season in the new building as thousands of flashbulbs popped. Said DeVos: ``This is a Magic building. But it’s your community center. It’s your place for many adventures to take place. So we know that this place will be a place of comfort and joy, and that everybody who comes here will be honored and loved and cherished. It’s up to us to set the tone in this community that everybody who comes here will be respected and honored.’’

3. Jameer Nelson’s 23-point second-half performance in a defeat of the Knicks (March 1): The Knicks were the hottest story in the NBA at the time, coming to Orlando just days after trading for Carmelo Anthony. And for most of the night, it looked as if Anthony and the Knicks would have their way with the Magic. But that’s before Nelson heated up and outplayed longtime Magic nemesis, Chauncey Billups. Nelson scored 23 of his 26 points in the second half as the Magic rallied from an 11-point deficit. Nelson also had 11 consecutive points during one stretch of the fourth quarter to elicit a roar from the Amway Center crowd that was as loud as any point during the season. Dwight Howard wasn’t too bad either inside against Amare Stoudemire, scoring 30 points and grabbing 16 rebounds.

4. Magic pound Lakers behind Dwight Howard’s overall brilliance (Feb. 13): Howard has had a MVP-worthy season, but he was never better nor more efficient all season than he was against the Lakers at the Amway Center. It didn’t matter whether the Lakers used Andrew Bynum or Pau Gasol on Howard, the Magic center scored almost at will throughout the game. He made 13 of 16 shots and five of six free throws for 31 points. Howard completed the dominating performance with 13 rebounds – six coming on the offensive glass – while also blocking three shots. His defensive presence in the lane helped the Magic hold L.A. to just 34 second-half points, a season-low 75 points in the game and 39 percent shooting.

5. Hedo Turkoglu hands out 17 assists in rally against Mavs (Jan. 8): Turkoglu happily returned to Orlando in the trade with Phoenix on Dec. 18, and he became the first player in Magic history with three career triple-doubles on Jan. 3 when he had 10 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists against the Golden State Warriors. But five days after the triple-double, his 17-assist masterpiece in Dallas was an even greater performance The author of so many fourth-quarter heroics during his first stint with the Magic from 2004-09, Turkoglu took over the game and led the Magic to a victory in a game they once trailed by 16 points. Turkoglu had 10 points, five assists and two steals in the fourth quarter alone. During one incredible stretch, Turkoglu either scored or assisted on 18 straight Magic points. For the game, he had career highs in assists (17) and steals (five), while also scoring 10 points.

6. Following the blockbuster trades, Magic win nine in a row (Dec. 23-Jan. 8): The Magic shocked some in the basketball world on Dec. 18 when they traded Rashard Lewis for Gilbert Arenas and Marcin Gortat, Vince Carter and Mickael Pietrus for Jason Richardson, Earl Clark and Turkoglu. With so much change, it took the Magic a couple of games to get used to their new rotation. But what followed in the third game – a 123-101 rout of San Antonio – gave a peek at just how good the Magic could be. That victory, combined with a thrilling rally on Christmas Day to beat the Boston Celtics, jump-started a nine-game winning streak. Ending San Antonio’s 10-game win streak and the Celtics’ 14-game spree, the Magic became the first team in 13 years to snap two winning streaks of at least 10 games in consecutive games. Also, during their nine-game winning streak, Orlando won each night by at least eight points, tying Miami as the only other NBA team to do that this season.

7. Hit by sickness and down to just eight healthy players, Magic win in Detroit (Dec. 3): When a stomach virus hit the Magic and knocked Howard, Nelson and J.J. Redick out of action, Orlando was forced to make due with just eight players. And that number dwindled to seven when Ryan Anderson suffered a badly sprained foot after playing just 28 seconds. But the Magic delivered one of their gustiest efforts of the season to throttle Detroit 104-91 at The Palace of Auburn Hills. Magic power forward Brandon Bass came off the bench that night to make 11 of 12 shots and score a career-best 27 points. Former Magic players Vince Carter (25 points and nine assists) and Marcin Gortat (14 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks) also had big performances.

8. Jason Richardson’s four-point play vs. Sixers to force overtime (Jan. 19): Trailing 90-86 with 17 seconds left in a very poor shooting game for the Magic, Richardson came to the rescue. As he was hit across the arm by Philadelphia small forward Andre Iguodala, Richardson connected on a deep 3-pointer to bring the Magic within one. Richardson followed up with the free throw that tied the game. The Magic ultimately won the game in overtime on – what else? – a similar four-point play by J.J. Redick. Richardson’s clutch 3-point shot and free throw proved to be historic. According to Elias Sports Bureau, only one other player (Ben Gordon) in the previous three seasons had tied or won a game with a four-point play in the final 20 seconds.

9. Magic win three road games in the final minute on three consecutive Saturday nights in November (Nov. 13-20-27): Howard is clearly the heart of the Magic, but it’s Nelson who is so often this team’s soul. And he’s the player that the Magic want with the ball in his hands with games on the line down the stretch. That was never more apparent than in November when Nelson made two game-winners and took the shot that resulted in a third go-ahead basket by Howard on three straight Saturday night road games in November. First, Nelson hit a fading floater over Brook Lopez’s outstretched arm to give the Magic a 91-90 victory against New Jersey on Nov. 13. Then, Nelson converted a clutch three-point play with 45 seconds to play to move the Magic from one point behind to in the lead by two in a 90-86 win against Indiana. And on Nov. 27 in Washington, Nelson again took the big shot, but when it missed Howard was there for the game-winning putback with four seconds to play in a 100-99 victory.

10. Dwight Howard sets franchise record for consecutive double-doubles (Jan. 21-April 1): Howard solidified his place in the MVP discussion with a 10-week stretch that was arguably the best of his career. During that time, Howard strung together 33 straight double-double performances, breaking the previous franchise record that he set over 20 games in 2010. During that 33-game stretch, Howard averaged 24.6 points and 15.6 rebounds. During that stretch of basketball, Howard scored 40 points twice and had at least 30 points 10 times. He pulled down 20 rebounds four times and had at least 15 rebounds in 22 of the 33 games.

John Denton writes for OrlandoMagic.com. E-mail John at jd41898@aol.com. Submit a question to John for his mailbag segment at AskJD@orlandomagic.com.