Top 10 Orlando Magic games of the 2022 season
9. Championship Upset — vs. Golden State Warriors (March 22)
It is always a show when the Golden State Warriors come rolling into town. They did not have Stephen Curry with them at this point because of an injury. But there is still the allure of the Warriors. And the Orlando Magic needed a playoff-caliber opponent to cement their strong play at that point of the season.
Or it could have been one last good win before the inevitability of tanking to end the season began to take hold. This was the last rush for a team that was drifting to the end of the season.
And it was quite the rush for the team.
Orlando lost an eight-point halftime lead thanks to a 36-19 third quarter for Golden State. That put the Magic down nine and it seemed like the typical loss for a rebuilding team, even against a Warriors team without its top star.
But the Magic fought back in a major way. Orlando outscored Golden State 29-16 in the fourth quarter, using the team’s newfound defense to help anchor the team to a win.
It was some supreme balance that carried Orlando to the win. Markelle Fultz was an initial spark, scoring six of his eight points early in the fourth quarter to set the tone.
But it was the other core pieces that closed it.
Wendell Carter had 19 points to lead the Magic and Franz Wagner added 18 points, including a game-clinching dunk when he caught the Warriors’ defense napping and cut backdoor to put the game finally out of reach.
That was a huge play in itself, the sign of a young team growing up and learning how to close a game. The Magic noted afterward how that game showed they were growing in these situations. Gone were some of the usual late-game flubs that young teams have or the missed shots. The Magic finished the game.
There were not a ton of wins for Orlando to hang its hat on this season against quality opponents. And that is a point of concern.
And this one comes with the major caveat that Curry was out for the game — the same guy who torched Orlando in San Francisco earlier in the year.
But there were still good things to take. There was still a solid defensive effort to hold Golden State to 90 points and a strong finish to give the Amway Center crowd something to cheer.