Magic's Best Defensive Plays of 2015-16 Season

By Josh Cohen
June 9, 2016

Nov. 6 vs. Raptors

It was a stellar defensive stance that helped Orlando hand Toronto its first loss of the season. In the closing seconds, Evan Fournier stripped DeMar DeRozan as he went up for a shot near the hoop. Then, after the Raptors regathered, Jason Smith bullied Jonas Valanciunas in the post and forced him into a tough left-handed hook shot. WATCH:

Nov. 11 vs. Lakers

Before Nikola Vucevic’s game-winning buzzer-beater came a pair of outstanding defensive plays. First, Tobias Harris rejected Julius Randle’s jump shot with 36 seconds left. On L.A.’s ensuing possession, Elfrid Payton kept Lou Williams off balanced and he was forced into a challenging fall-away jumper with the shot clock expiring and the game clock at 1.5 seconds. WATCH:

Dec. 1 at Timberwolves

Aaron Gordon has the tools to become an elite defender. It was on display on the final possession that night in Minneapolis. With the Wolves down three, they inbounded the ball into Andrew Wiggins and Gordon’s textbook defense prevented him from getting a good look. Gordon eluded a screen, stayed within inches of Wiggins and made a terrific contest. WATCH:

Dec. 18 vs. Blazers

One of Victor Oladipo’s defensive specialties is chasing down opponents in transition and denying easy buckets at the rim. While he had a few terrific defensive stops in these situations throughout the season, none was more impressive than when he impeded C.J. McCollum’s shot. After McCollum came up with a steal, Oladipo followed him down the court and rejected his layup attempt. WATCH:

Dec. 23 vs. Rockets

While he’s not known for his defensive intimidation, Vucevic did a great job this past season challenging and altering shots near the rim. Perhaps his most memorable defensive play came against the Rockets when he prevented James Harden from attempting a floater in the lane. Harden tried dumping the ball off to Dwight Howard, who lost his balance and kicked it out to Trevor Ariza. His corner 3-point attempt was well-contested by Payton. WATCH:

Jan. 22 vs. Hornets

There were several unforgettable moments from that night. But perhaps the most memorable was Oladipo’s steal on Kemba Walker, which led to a breakaway dunk with 26 seconds remaining. While Charlotte won the game, this tremendous defensive play was arguably one of the top 10 moments from Orlando’s season. WATCH:

Feb. 19 vs. Mavericks

While we may always tie Gordon and Feb. 2016 with his mesmerizing dunk contest performance, he also had one of the season’s most outstanding defensive stops at that time. Gordon forced Dirk Nowitzki into an off-balanced fall-away jumper at the end of regulation. The Magic would go on to win in overtime. WATCH:

April 8 vs. Heat

While Mario Hezonja’s smothering defense on Luol Deng on the inbounds was a huge factor, Devyn Marble’s diving steal helped secure a thrilling Magic victory. He lunged out as the ball was tossed in, which prevented Joe Johnson from getting an opportunity to tie the game in the closing seconds. WATCH:

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