The top 10 Orlando Magic moments of 2020

Markelle Fultz introduced himself to the nation with a triple-double in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers last January. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports
Markelle Fultz introduced himself to the nation with a triple-double in a win over the Los Angeles Lakers last January. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports /
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7. Feb. 28 — Aaron Gordon’s Triple-Double

The Orlando Magic did not have a lot of great offensive moments in their 2020 season. The team’s offense was downright anemic for long stretches. It is still the team’s biggest apparent weakness.

But around the All-Star Break, the Magic started to figure some things out. They emphasized pace more and getting out in transition. They empowered Markelle Fultz to run the offense.

More importantly, they got Aaron Gordon healthy and playing more in the paint rather than on the perimeter. That unlocked a side to Gordon’s game the team had not seen to that point.

Gordon recorded his first career triple-double against the Minnesota Timberwolves as part of a torrid stretch through February when his assists jumped up to career-best levels. Gordon had 17 points, 11 rebounds and 12 assists against the Timberwolves that night.

From the All-Star Break until the season went on hiatus (nine games for Gordon), he averaged 15.4 points per game, 9.1 rebounds per game and 6.8 assists per game. This is the multi-faceted, versatile player everyone imagined he could be when he entered the league.

The Magic are trying to use him in much the same way this year, trying to leverage the multiple potential playmakers on the roster. Gordon’s lingering injury from the end of last season has slowed that down. But Gordon showed this is the kind of player he can be.

It crystallized on this night — a night, mind you, where Terrence Ross scored a season-high 33 points off the bench.

6. Dec. 23 — Magic return with fans

The NBA season returned in July in the sterile environment of the bubble. There were no fans and the only interaction anyone had with the Magic fan base was through the video boards streaming in meeting rooms of fans watching the game in quasi-real-time.

The NBA was right to be safe with their return and if they were going to return to sequester the league away from fans to get the season finished. Starting a new season though was an entirely different matter.

The NBA opted to follow MLB and the NFL and have teams travel to venues while they try to limit contact within the team as much as they can. The decision to have fans was left up to teams provided they follow some basic guidelines from the league in addition to local guidelines.

The Magic were one of the few teams to open their building to fans. About 4,000 fans watched the Orlando Magic defeat the Miami Heat in their home opener last week. It was a modest amount and there are certainly still questions to ask about just how safe the whole procedure is, but even the players admitted it was nice to have fans in the building. It gave them a lift.

Orlando started its season with a thrilling 113-107 victory. It was the kind of complete, resume-building win the Magic are still seeking to affirm their strong start to the year.

Even for a muted opening, it was just good to have basketball back at the Amway Center even with limited capacity.

5. Dec. 27 — The Comeback In Washington

Fans are looking for any sign the Orlando Magic are ready to take the next step. Any sign they will be out of the 7th- and 8th-seed ringer. A chance to win a playoff series and advance up the Eastern Conference ladder.

Ultimately, the way for the Magic to do this is to beat other contending teams. That is what made Thursday’s loss to the Philadelphia 76ers so disconcerting and disappointing. There will be plenty of opportunities to get those kinds of prove-it wins.

There are still plenty of hints the Magic are a bit different this year.

Their offense has become a juggernaut through the first four games at least. And they put that on full display in a thrilling comeback that only winning teams are able to do.

Trailing by 17-points entering the fourth quarter, the Magic quickly erased the deficit with their bench group. Michael Carter-Williams scored six quick points to spark the comeback. Terrence Ross kept his hot streak going, scoring 26 for the game.

Then after struggling for most of the game, the starters took over with Markelle Fultz and Nikola Vucevic making huge plays down the stretch to secure the 120-113 win.

The 24-point turnaround in the fourth quarter was a sign of how things might be different. How the team could lock in defensively and put up some scary offensive numbers and pressure even with their apparent lack of shooting.

This was a game that displayed all of Orlando’s potential. It might be the kind of win the team is chasing for a long time. But hopefully, it is a sign of just how good this team can be.