Orlando Magic’s historical scoring streak was no fluke

The Orlando Magic may not quite be ready to come back to earth after completing a five-game run with at least 120 points. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic may not quite be ready to come back to earth after completing a five-game run with at least 120 points. (Photo by Kim Klement-Pool/Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic made history becoming the only team in franchise history with five consecutive 120-plus-point games. Finding that offense again will be key to finish the season.

The Orlando Magic were heating up as they started to play inside the NBA campus.

The 2020 Magic put together a streak of five consecutive games scoring 120-plus points. That is something no other team in Magic history was able to do.

Not the historically great 1995 team that put up one of the best offensive seasons in the NBA to-date with Shaquille O’Neal and Anfernee Hardaway.  Not the Tracy McGrady-led teams of the 2000s with his scoring prowess. Not the Dwight Howard-led and 3-point-shooting barrage of a team from 2009 and 2010.

This 2020 team did that.

Although their streak ended against the Indiana Pacers on Tuesday, and the team again faltered offensively against a strong defensive unit in the Toronto Raptors the following day, the Orlando Magic have put up some strong offensive numbers.

The Magic, even after those two losses, have posted 114.4 points per 100 possessions, the ninth-best mark in the league inside the bubble. They are shooting a 55.9-percent effective field goal percentage, the seventh-best mark in the league inside the bubble.

Orlando is still trying to get its defense under control. But even with a frustrating shooting performance against the Raptors from Wednesday, the Magic are still feeling very good about their offense.

But that does not quite get to how historical and unique what the Magic accomplished was.

Those other great teams one might think would hold this distinction had at least one bona fide superstar on the roster. The 1995 and 2009 teams were both historical innovators in the league and would finish the season in championship contention, reaching the NBA Finals.

Although the 2020 Magic claim this record, this particular team would be lucky to make it out of the first round. They are merely trying to steal a game in the first round from championship contenders like the Milwaukee Bucks or Toronto Raptors.

As important as making the playoffs this year is for the 2020 team, it is going to be a relatively historically insignificant squad. This season as a whole will likely go down as a disappointment.

A lot of that and the team’s relative inconsistency has to do with the fact they do not have a top-20 player on the roster who can score consistently. Nikola Vucevic, the team’s top scorer, is No. 42 on the league’s scoring leaders list.

This team has had to score by committee. It takes a balanced approach for them to succeed.

In the five games of this streak, the Magic had a different player step up and be the team’s leading scorer. This is the definition of a team’s “scoring by committee” approach to the game.

The first game of the historical winning streak was a 132-118 win against the Minnesota Timberwolves. This was a special game for Orlando as six players finished in double figures. Nikola Vucevic had 28 points, 13 rebounds and four assists, while Markelle Fultz scored 24 points on just 14 shot attempts.

This is the type of contribution the Magic will need in order to win a game in the first round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs. D.J. Augustin finished with 18 points and five assists, while Terrence Ross added 16 off the bench.

The second game of the winning streak was when the Orlando Magic beat the Houston Rockets 126-106. Augustin was the leading scorer in this particular match up scoring 24 points and dishing out three assists, while Vucevic had a double-double with 16 points and 16 rebounds.

Fultz played well in this outing too as the Magic scored more than 125 on one of the Western Conference favorites.

The third game of the historical winning streak was a 120-115 win against the Memphis Grizzlies. In this game, the Magic had different leading scorer in Terrence Ross with 24 points. Vucevic also added 19 points and 11 rebounds to secure the victory, erasing a 16-point second-quarter deficit in the process.

The Magic had five players in double figures and defined the “scoring by committee” mindset for a team missing a superstar player to lead them. Michael Carter-Williams added 20 points and three boards, while D.J. Augustin added 16 points and four assists.

The hiatus hit at that point and it was unclear whether the Magic would be able to maintain this rhythm. Orlando had the top offense in the league after the All-Star Break, with these three games proving to be less than a blip in the 10 games after the league’s scheduled break.

The scrimmages did little to make it seem like the Magic would be able to sprint out of the gate.

But the Orlando Magic opened their first seeding round game with a 128-118 victory over the Brooklyn Nets. In this game, it was Evan Fournier’s turn to be the team’s leading scorer as he finished the game with 24 points and five assists.

The Magic had six players in double figures again, and Vucevic was the second-leading scorer with 22 points and seven rebounds.

This was a game that the Magic had to have for playoff positioning and they won in historical fashion.

The last game of this historical 120-plus-point, five-game winning streak was a 132-116 victory against the Sacramento Kings. The Magic came out on fire as they scored 44 points in the first quarter.

This victory was led by Ross’ 25 points and Vucevic’s 23 points and 12 rebounds. The Magic had six players in double figures again and Aaron Gordon added another 22 points with five boards.

It was a whirlwind of a run that brought a lot of confidence to the team. It felt like the magic could beat anybody. Among the games in that win streak were three teams that were in playoff position at the time they played. It did not feel like a complete fluke.

But Orlando had not faced any strong defensive teams in that run. The best defensive team they faced was the Houston Rockets, ranked 15th in the league overall. And that team was experimenting with playing without a center during that game, a lineup the team had not come close to perfecting at that point.

Facing off against two strong defensive teams in the Pacers and Raptors, the Magic hit a road block. While Orlando still posted an offensive rating better than 110 against Indiana, it was not enough to make up for a slow start to the game and overall poor defense, something the strong offensive run after the All-Star Break did well to hide.

Nobody has been able to crack the Raptors’ defense and the Magic had their first game with an offensive rating worse than 100 points per 100 possession in 16 games — a Feb. 8 game against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Orlando will have to find a way to score more effectively against elite defenses to make the most of its playoff appearance. But the Magic have proven they can do it.

This group has accomplished something that no other Magic team in franchise history has. And that is something to be proud of no matter how the season ends.