Magic prepare to come down from that high

Kim Klement/USA TODAY

Kyle O'Quinn was the first to leave the bench and lead the stream of player running to the opposite end of the court as Maurice Harkless and Victor Oladipo swarmed Tobias Harris. The crowd went wild in bewilderment over what had just happened. A 50/50 ball for a rebound had turned into a game-winning slam dunk.

O'Quinn said it felt like he was back in college with the excitement and energy on the bench following the game.

It took a couple viewings just to figure out exactly what happened. ESPN showed it plenty of times for the world to see, leading off the midnight SportsCenter with that final play and declaring it their top play of the day.

Getting a dunk for a win is a rare occasion and for a 15-win team beating a 40-win team, it was emotional. It was something of a statement for the Magic even if it was not meant to be one. It was a very nice win for the Magic.

"I'm always excited for our guys," Jacque Vaughn said. "The fact that they can see they come to work every day, put in a hard day's work and continue do that over and over again, you'll put yourself in a position where some good things can happen for you. At certain times there is going to be some adversity you've got to fight, but you've got to fight through that as well."

{podcast id=57}

Arron Afflalo said after Friday night's game he was very happy to see the young players celebrate that win. He kept his emotions in check — ever the professional — but it was very satisfying to see the young players, who have gone through so much heartache and losing this year, get a moment for unadulterated joy.

But reality sets in quickly in the NBA. There is another game against another REALLY good opponent. This time it is the Pacers who stomped the Magic earlier this week and lead the Eastern Conference. There is no time to rest on their laurels, if you can have any with 15 wins.


Vaughn said players are used to the attention — from their high school and college experiences. The expectation are the guys will be professional and hungry to face a team that beat them pretty handily only a week before.

That should be enough to focus the team back in.

The fact of the matter is, the group that finish that game were a group of young players with not a lot of big-game experience in the NBA. This was a win that put the Magic on a rare stage for where the organization is at and for where many of the players have been in their careers.

Handling that is not dissimilar to the handling of losses. There is always another game coming down the pike. In this case, it is the Eastern Conference-leading Pacers. There cannot be a lot of time to revel in any victory or stay down after too many losses.

Harris said he probably watched the play one time before he returned his focus to his team and getting a win in the next game. He said he was more excited about the progress his team made and the defense the Magic played in the second half and fourth quarter against the Thunder.

"We can't come in today and be relaxed," Harris said. "It's a great win for us as a team. It's just like the NBA, it's just like if we lose a game, we go on to the next game. Our confidence is high, which is good after a game like that. But we have to come in and work today. We have to be focused and be mentally ready and go out there tomorrow and play like we did in the second half."

The Magic are already moving on. The highlight has run its course and become very much old news. The Magic have to try to build off the win when they start from scratch Sunday night.

Philip Rossman-Reich

About Philip Rossman-Reich

Philip Rossman-Reich is the managing editor for Crossover Chronicles and Orlando Magic Daily. You can follow him on twitter @OMagicDaily