Orlando Magic on Hiatus: The top 10 games of the 2020 season (so far)

Markelle Fultz and the Orlando Magic made a strong first impression in their season opener. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images)
Markelle Fultz and the Orlando Magic made a strong first impression in their season opener. (Photo by Harry Aaron/Getty Images) /
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Aaron Gordon, Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets
The Orlando Magic made a statement in a 3-1 road trip that has them laser-eyed on the playoffs again. (Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images) /

2. The Big Win — at Rockets (March 8)

106. 169. Final. 126. 38

Our Coverage: Grades; Orlando Magic are long past due to realize this potential

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The Orlando Magic were still having some nightmares of James Harden’s clinical 54-point effort in December. There the Magic defense swarmed Harden and forced him into shooting 3-pointers and he just buried them over and over.

There was little the Magic could seemingly do. They really lost that game to the Houston Rockets because of their poor transition defense as Russell Westbrook proved the big difference. And this was back when the Magic were playing solid defense.

Even with the Rockets playing without a traditional center, it never felt like the Magic were going to have a chance coming into this one. The Rockets had too many dynamic weapons.

That would be wrong. Completely wrong.

The Magic might have caught the Rockets at a time when they did not quite know who they were. But they also executed a perfect gameplan, clogging the lane and keeping Harden and Westbrook out of the paint. They actually had one of their best defensive games in a long time, shutting out the Rockets.

That turned into fast-breaking opportunities for the Magic. And they pummeled the Rockets on the glass — 23 second-chance points on 13 offensive rebounds — and dominated the entire game. Orlando took a 30-point lead at one point.

The Magic had not had a performance this complete where they found a healthy opponent and pummeled them. Everyone did their part with Aaron Gordon and Nikola Vucevic putting in double-doubles. It was D.J. Augustin off the bench who paced the Magic to the win with 24 points to lead the team.

But really this was every player on the team working in concert.

This was the team playing with pace and getting up and down the floor. They moved the ball to find the open man. And they shut down the lane and forced the Rockets out of their comfort zone.

The Magic were so clearly the better team. It was shocking to watch the Magic dismantle a playoff-caliber team like this on the road. It was something they had so rarely done. And it was just about as well as the Magic have played all season.