Single-game records aren’t made to be broken, at least not easily. If they were, it wouldn’t have taken 19 years for a Magic player to pull down Shaquille O’Neal’s rebounding record.
The truth is, single-game records are extremely hard to reach. Rarely do you see a player attain one, and that’s because it’s a result of many outside variables coming together on one very special night. For Nikola Vucevic, that night came on New Year’s Eve against the defending NBA champion Miami Heat.
“I just wanted to go out there and be aggressive on the glass,” Vucevic said after he scored a career-high 20 points and set a Magic rebounding record in the overtime loss. “I had no idea I would grab 29 boards.”
Vucevic is now No. 1 in franchise history for the most rebounds in a single game, surpassing the original Superman’s 28-rebound effort against the New Jersey Nets on Nov. 20, 1993. Even All-Star Dwight Howard (Superman II) couldn’t reach the record during his seven years in Orlando. Vucevic did it in just his 31st game for the Magic.
Still, his teammates joke like it was just another day at the office for the second-year center, probably in an attempt to keep him humble.
“I mean he’s a 7-footer,” Jameer Nelson said teasingly, “He’s supposed to get that many rebounds.”
“He got like 10 rebounds on one play,” Arron Afflalo added jokingly, exaggerating just a smidge.
But, when all the jokes are done, his teammates know the difficulty in setting a single-game record. Seven-footers don’t just get 29 boards every game the same way scorers don’t just go for 62 points on a nightly basis. It’s not every day a player hits 11 3-pointers, and only one point guard in the NBA has ever dished out 30 assists in a game.
As we look back on some of the other great single-game performances in Orlando Magic history, we pose the question: Which one is the most impressive?
Tracy McGrady scores 62 points
March 10, 2004
“I was going for 70,” Tracy McGrady said in his postgame interview the night he dropped a 62-point bombshell on the Washington Wizards in a 108-99 Magic victory.
“If I would have made my free throws, I would have had it.”
Not only did McGrady miss nine free throws, he also missed 10 of his final 11 shots.
But through three quarters, McGrady was unstoppable. “T-Mac” went off, hitting 19 of his first 26 shots. That’s 73 percent from the field. Not only could McGrady have gone for 70, he could have hit the 80-point mark.
He was pulling up for 3s after shaking defenders left and right, breaking down double teams like they didn’t even exist and getting to the basket anytime he wanted to. Even though he thought he underachieved with 62 points, his showed his two scoring titles were no fluke.
Dennis Scott makes 11 3-pointers
April 18, 1996
For a shooter, there’s nothing sweeter than that second-chance shot from the 3-point line after your team gets a hard-fought offensive rebound. It’s like a dagger right in the heart of the other team.
On the night “3-D” hit 11 3-pointers in a 119-104 victory over the Atlanta Hawks, five of his makes came from second-chance opportunities, two off his own misses.
The other six 3s were an assortment — transition 3s, corner 3s from passes out of the post, extra-pass 3s, and that one long-range, two-steps-past-half-court 3 just because he felt like it. And man was he feeling it. The Magic’s all-time leader in 3-point field goals was 11 of 17 from behind the arc, finishing the game with 35 points.
Not only did he set a franchise record, he also set an NBA record that wasn’t broken until Kobe Bryant hit 12 3-pointers in a game seven years later.
What made the night even more special was that Scott was able to share it with the guy he surpassed in the NBA history books. Brian Shaw, who previously held the record with 10 3s, was credited with the assists on Scott’s last two 3-pointers made.
Scott Skiles dishes out 30 assists
Dec. 30, 1990
No disrespect to the great point guards in the league today, but this is one record that may never be broken.
It takes two players to create an assist, and for one player to dish out 30 of them, it takes the whole team doing almost everything right.
The night Skiles set an NBA record in assists was also the same night the Orlando Magic set a franchise single-game scoring record in a 155-116 win against the Denver Nuggets. It was a once-in-a-century type of game.
The Nuggets were playing a run-and-gun style, settling for long jumpers early in the shot clock. That created countless fast-break opportunities for the Magic, led by Skiles at the point.
Although fast-break situations are fertile land for assists, they also can be a hidden trap for turnovers. The great point guards know how to capitalize. Skiles, the Magic’s all-time leader in assists, had only four turnovers in the game, resulting in a 7.5 assist-to-turnover ratio.
He wasn’t just passing the ball off every chance he got either. Skiles hit two 3-pointers, grabbed six rebounds, recorded two steals, made six out of seven free throws and finished the game with 22 points. Virtually every time he touched the ball, something good happened. It’s no wonder Skiles played in all but four minutes of the contest.
So out of Vucevic’s 29 rebounds, McGrady’s 62 points, Scott’s 11 3-pointers and Skiles’ 30 assists, which record is the most impressive?
The question certainly makes for some good, old-fashioned basketball talk. Arron Afflalo and J.J. Redick say Skiles’ assist record — without question.
“Thirty assists?” Afflalo said in disbelief. “You can’t just go get thirty assists.”