Making their mark: Magic records that stand the test of time
Whoever said records are made to be broken did not have the Orlando Magic in mind.
In a relatively short period of time, the Magic have compiled some individual and team accomplishments which could take another 25 years to equal or surpass. And one can be classified as comparable to Wilt Chamberlain’s 100-point game in mind-boggling attainability in NBA history.
Narrowing this list to 10 was not a snap. An honorable mention shout-out goes to the 85 points the Magic’s bench accounted for in a victory over the Golden State Warriors in 1995. And earlier this season, the Phoenix Suns attempted only three free throws in a game at Orlando, breaking the record of 5 by a Magic opponent.
As remarkable as those statistics are, these warrant being singled out even more:
10. MOST FREE THROWS MADE WITHOUT A MISS – PLAYER
47, Darrell Armstrong — 1999
Coming off a season in which he became the second member of the Magic to earn NBA Most Improved Player honors, Armstrong took his game to another level in one category. From Nov. 13 through Dec. 11 in what became known as the franchise’s Heart and Hustle team of 1999-2000, the popular point guard hit all of his free-throw attempts. Armstrong twice made a run at breaking his own record with streaks of 42 and 35 without a miss. The closest anyone other than him has come since then has been Troy Hudson in 2001-02 and Ryan Anderson in 2012 with 35 each.
9. MOST GAMES IN A ROW WITH AT LEAST ONE 3-POINT FG MADE – TEAM
527 games — March 2007 to present
You have to go back to a victory over the Utah Jazz the night of March 14, 2007, for the last time the Magic failed to connect at least once from long range. Admittedly, they aren’t even halfway to the NBA record of 1,108 games set by the Dallas Mavericks from 1999 to 2012. But the Magic teams coached by Stan Van Gundy and the Suns of the Mike D’Antoni era dispelled the myth that hoisting up large numbers of 3-point attempts were a formula for eventual disaster. Consider that the Miami Heat and the San Antonio Spurs ranked sixth and seventh in 3-point attempts last season on their way to the Finals.
8. MOST BLOCKED SHOTS IN A GAME – PLAYER
15, Shaquille O’Neal — Nov. 20, 1993
The only triple-double of O’Neal’s four-year stay with the Magic came when he blocked 15 shots at New Jersey on Nov. 20, 1993, to go with his 24 points and 28 rebounds. The rebounds he had that night stood as a franchise record for 19 more years, and his 20 rebounds in the second half remain a record for one half. A little-known fact about Shaq: His blocks per game average went down in each of his seasons with the Magic from a high of 3.53 as a rookie to a low of 2.13 in 1995-96. The performance is even more amazing when you consider no one in the NBA has more than nine blocks in a game this season.
7. MOST FREE THROWS ATTEMPTED IN A GAME – PLAYER
39, Dwight Howard — Jan. 12, 2012
Mark Jackson’s 10th game as coach of the Warriors the night of Jan. 12, 2012, saw him take the Hack-A-Howard strategy to new heights (or depths). The tactic made sense in that the Magic were a far superior team and Howard was on his way to hitting less than half of his free throws in a season for the only time in his eight-year career in Orlando. But it backfired because he connected 21 times in a 117-109 Magic victory where he finished with 45 points and 23 rebounds. Jacque Vaughn employed the same strategy with even less success when Howard and the Los Angeles Lakers came to town last March. Howard again went to the line 39 times and made 25 of his attempts. The most the Magic have shot in a game this season as a team is 32, and that required two overtimes at Philadelphia.
6. MOST 3-POINT FIELD GOALS MADE IN A GAME – PLAYER
11, Dennis Scott — April 18, 1996
This occurred when the NBA tried to increase scoring during an era where overly physical defense became an unfortunate trend by shortening the 3-point line to a uniform 22 feet from the basket. That being said, Scott was never hotter during those three years – or anytime before or after – than the night of April 18, 1996, against the Atlanta Hawks. If the record never fell when Rashard Lewis, Hedo Turkoglu, Vince Carter and J.J. Redick were members of the Magic, chances are good that it will never fall. Scott’s 267 3-pointers made that season were a league record, which stood until Ray Allen broke it in 2005-06 while he and Lewis were teammates with the Seattle SuperSonics.
5. MOST 3-POINT FIELD GOALS MADE IN A GAME – TEAM
23 made — Jan. 13, 2009
When the Magic play Friday night at Sacramento, it will be within days of the five-year anniversary of a staggering shooting display. In a 139-107 rout of the Kings, the Magic broke the NBA single-game record of 21 3-pointers, which was set in 2005 by the Toronto Raptors. Howard, Tony Battie and Marcin Gortat were the only players in uniform for them that night not to get in on the act. Even seldom-used reserves Jeremy Richardson and Brian Cook contributed after Van Gundy had given Jameer Nelson (5 of 5), Redick (4 of 7), Lewis (3 of 5) and Turkoglu (3 of 5) the rest of the night off. The Rockets tied the record on Feb. 5, 2013.
4. MOST POINTS IN A GAME – TEAM
Of the many franchise records established the night of Dec. 30, 1990, against the Denver Nuggets of future Magic assistant coach Paul Westhead, this one tends to get overlooked. But there it stands after all this time. Despite going into the game with only a 6-23 record in their second year of existence, the Magic joined the growing list of teams to shoot gaping holes in the up-tempo style Westhead tried to incorporate from his time at Loyola Marymount. The leading scorer for the Magic that night was Jerry Reynolds with 27 points. This was the only season where the Magic, for reasons that made no sense in terms of geography, were placed in the Western Conference. So they faced the Nuggets four times in all and put up at least 111 points in each meeting.
3. MOST REBOUNDS IN A GAME – PLAYER
29, Nikola Vucevic — Dec. 31, 2012
It’s safe to presume O’Neal rang out 2012 grousing that it required a five-minute overtime period for his single-game franchise rebounding record to fall. But what Vucevic was able to accomplish on New Year’s Eve made people realize the Magic had a keeper in the center they got in August as part of the four-way trade that sent Howard to the Lakers. And it wasn’t some lower-rung team that he pulled this off against but the Heat, who were on their way to a second title in a row. As if to prove his performance was no fluke, Vucevic grabbed 21 rebounds at Miami when the teams next met. He recorded another 21-rebound effort five games into this season when the Magic defeated the Los Angeles Clippers.
2. MOST POINTS IN A GAME- PLAYER
62, Tracy McGrady — March 10, 2004
This March 10 marks the 10-year anniversary of when McGrady provided a transcendent moment in an otherwise awful season. A week before what turned out to be his final game in a Magic uniform, McGrady shattered O’Neal’s mark of 53 points set in 1994 by reminding the Washington Wizards what he was capable of doing when fully motivated. Except for Kobe Bryant, no one has scored as many as 62 points in an NBA game in the decade that has followed. As prolific as McGrady was that night, he admitted afterward that he could have been better — he missed nine of his 14 3-pointers and nine of his 26 free throws. (Michael Jordan’s 64 points against the Magic in 1993 remains the record by an opposing player and, like McGrady’s record, is likely to continue standing for years.)
1. MOST ASSISTS IN A GAME – PLAYER
Skiles averaged only 4.8 assists the previous season with the Magic. But with Sam Vincent injured and the Nuggets bringing their defense-optional approach to the Orlando Arena, he had a night for the ages. Skiles’ 30th assist came on a jump shot by Reynolds and moved him past Kevin Porter, who had a 29-assist game for the New Jersey Nets against the Houston Rockets in 1978, into sole possession of the NBA single-game record. The closest anyone has come to matching Skiles came when John Stockton handed out 28 assists in a game in 1991. The top individual performances this century are 24-assist games by Ramon Sessions for the Milwaukee Bucks in 2008 and Rajon Rondo for the Boston Celtics in 2010. Skiles had only four turnovers, and his 30 assists were more than twice as many as the Nuggets finished with (14).