Top 10 Orlando Magic games of the 2022 season
10. Undermanned victory — at Brooklyn Nets (Dec. 18)
The Orlando Magic were in a panic on Dec. 17.
They were set to play the Miami Heat at the Amway Center when the positive tests started to come through. The rest of the league was also experiencing a sudden surge of positive tests sending swaths of players into health and safety protocols.
The league’s largely successful vaccination efforts kept players from any serious after-effects from this wave, but the league still had its protocols to slow the spread if it penetrated the NBA family.
The Magic got through the heavily regulated 2021 season without many encounters with the health and safety protocols. But there was no getting around it this time.
With a game a few hours away and the NBA hesitant to cancel any games, the Magic quickly called up four players on emergency 10-day contracts to try to fill out their roster and have a legal roster. Little-used Mychal Mulder got a start that night against the also-undermanned Miami Heat.
The Magic lost that game. But that only presented the next problem: What do they do for their game the next night in Brooklyn?
That game against the Brooklyn Nets felt like a schedule loss regardless of who was playing for the Nets or the Magic. But bringing about a group of players called up from the Lakeland Magic on an emergency basis felt like a tall task.
But it is also super important for any team to be able to play the same way regardless of who is playing. And adding some new blood to the team — even if it was coming from Lakeland where they run similar stuff — had to be seamless.
The Nets were also shorthanded for this game. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden all missed the game. This was not some monumental, earth-shattering win that showed the team’s future. That is beyond the effort and cohesion they showed in going out and winning the game.
Orlando played with little consequence and the freedom showed. Robin Lopez scored 20 points. Gary Harris scored 17 points. Franz Wagner had only 14 points to go with 11 rebounds and six assists.
This was a team stuck together with duct tape and glue and somehow they created a fun and memorable night. Even if it does not mean much for the team’s future.