Orlando Magic coach Jamahl Mosley did not see the play as it happened. But he could hear it.
Toward the end of the third quarter, Mosley was preparing to talk to his team before the start of the fourth quarter and had turned away from the bench when it happened.
If you watched the game, you know what it is for this game.
Moe Wagner and Gary Harris miscommunicated on a switch and gave an open lane to Jalen Green to come down and attack the basket. He nearly made a show of it, but Jonathan Isaac slid over.
Isaac said after the game he figured he was going to get dunked on. Instead, Isaac met Green at the rim and deterred the shot. He flexed and gave a scream, perhaps not realizing he was standing over Green at the time, picking up his first career technical foul.
The sold-out crowd of 18,846 lapped it up. The bench lapped it up. Mosley made sure to let Isaac know “they were with” that raw emotion and energy.
So was everyone else.
"“The fans were electric,” Isaac said after Wednesday’s game. “I love playing with that unit. I think we can be special as a unit and collectively as a team with the way we move the ball and get out and run. obviously our defensive prowess we can hold them to 86.”"
It was electrifying to see. And that was the best way to describe the Orlando Magic’s opening night 116-86 victory.
The Orlando Magic played to an energetic and loud opening night crowd that imbued the team with confidence and energy and got a reason to believe in return.
The Magic started fast, took an early lead and held on. They gave up a run in the third quarter before putting an exclamation point on the game, extending the lead out to 18 by the end of the third quarter and making the fourth quarter academic.
The game felt electrifying from start to finish as the Magic embark on this highly anticipated season. And everyone could feel it.
Orlando rode that wave — everything from the opening introductions that featured Rashard Lewis and Hedo Turkolgu to the throwback jerseys to the energy of an opening night — to a win. They showed everyone exactly who they could be and the crowd returned that energy 10-fold.
"“Our fans were incredible,” Mosley said after Wednesday’s game. “That was something like I haven’t seen in a long time. That atmosphere, the 35th anniversary, you had Rashard and Hedo out there introducing the guys. I thought that was aboslutely incredible. And you talk about our guys being able to take that energy and build on it, not get too high, not get too low but just sustain it the entire game. The fans. . . incredible. They fueled us.”"
This is what a home crowd should be and it felt like a playoff atmosphere at times.
The fans (appropriately) booed the Rockets when they got introduced and throughout the opening part of the game. They made organic cheers without the artifical prompts that seem to pop up only during the postseason.
Everyone could sense there was a different vibe around the team inside the AdventHealth Training Center as they prepared for the season. But that was also true of the way fans were talking and eagerly awaiting the start of this season. This was perhaps the most anticipated Magic season since the Magic’s title runs in 2009 and 2010.
It was hard not to contain that excitement and fervor.
That was the feeling all night long as the Magic opened their season at the Amway Center. It did not matter whether you were watching what was on the court, you could feel the energy of what was happening.
This was a crowd waiting to see this season begin and believing in what this team could become.
That played out over the course of the next two hours and 14 minutes. The Magic jumped out to an 11-point lead in the first quarter and never really seemed to let go of the momentum.
Wagner had 11 of his 19 points in the first quarter. Cole Anthony had 20 points to lead the team in scoring. Paolo Banchero had a quiet 12 points on a career-low six field goal attempts but still impacted the game with five rebounds and five assists.
Orlando was truly by committee with the team moving the ball quickly and trying to get everyone involved. The team found its energy over and over again. This was a product that everyone could get excited about.
"“It was awesome to see everyone,” Wagner said after Wednesday’s game. “It definitely makes a difference for us players. Hopefully, we can have a great season for the fans and our city.”"
If this is the appetizer for the season, the Magic are indeed in for something special. It is hard to judge regular season crowds and opening night crowds often do bring a lot of energy. Nobody knows if this is something that will last or if this energy will carry over.
Orlando now heads on a West Coast trip for the next week and then returns home Nov. 4 to take on the Los Angeles Lakers (always a team that creates a divided crowd).
Something does feel different about this team and the way fans are interacting with this team. It does feel like there is a belief in what this team can do.
There is still plenty of work to do, of course. The win, as Anthony said, validated their progress for about 30 minutes before they have to turn their attention to the next game. There is a long season ahead.
But for one night, the Magic seemed to give their fans a reason to cheer and a reason to believe. The crowd certainly seemed ready to give that faith and confidence to the team.
As the minutes ticked off and Anthony Black made his debut, scoring a quick five points and making an emphatic block on fellow rookie Amen Thompson, the crowd serenaded the team with “Let’s Go Magic” chants as the clock ticked to zero.
The season is long and winding. But for one night everyone could just believe in all that was possible and the Magic made it seem that way.