Wednesday night I almost did not attend the Bulls-Magic. Both teams have a ton of injuries, why go? I am glad I went. The Bulls-Magic played a wild triple OT game that had a little bit of everything. I really enjoyed the game. Who would have thought? Got me to think What are the Best Magic home games ever played? I made this list which was very hard. Its a combination of significance of game, what it meant to the Magic, how the game ended, incredible performances by a player, records and more. Not everyone will agree with the list. I am sure I left out some games. But Wednesday night reminded me why we all attend sporting events. Because you never know what you will see and what memories it will bring to you.
1- Pacers at Magic Game 7 1995 Eastern Conference Finals– It is the only Game 7 that has ever been played in Orlando. It was not a classic game but what it meant to the city, the franchise puts it up here as Shaquille O’Neal propelled the Magic to the Finals with 25 and 11 in a blowout win over the Pacers.
2- Cavaliers at Magic Game 6 2009 Eastern Conference Finals– Dwight Howard impelled the 2009 Magic squad with 40 pts and 14 rebounds to knock out LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers to advance to the NBA Finals.
3- Bulls at Magic Game 1, 1995 Eastern Conference Semi-finals. it’s one of the all-time most staggering moments in league history. Nick Anderson’s stole the ball on Michael Jordan which led to a fast break jam by Horace Grant culminated the Magic’s stirring victory over the Bulls.
4-Rockets at Magic Game 1, 1995 NBA Finals – I do include losses on this list and this without question is the most painful loss in Magic history but let’s face it, Game 1 of the 1995 NBA Finals was one of the greatest, most gripping games in championship history. Orlando controlled momentum throughout before Houston stormed back. Nick Anderson missed 4 straight Free Throws which set the stage for Kenny Smith’s overtime-forcing 3-pointer and Hakeem Olajuwon’s game-winning tip-in in the extra session set the tone for the rest of the series.
5- Cavaliers at Magic Game 4, 2009 Eastern Conference Finals. Rashard Lewis connected on a corner 3-pointer in the final seconds of regulation. LeBron’s free throws to end regulation forced OT, but his heave at the buzzer in the extra session sailed left and the Magic prevailed in Game 4 of the 2009 conference finals.
6-Lakers at Magic Game 3, 2009 NBA Finals. Orlando shot a blistering 63 percent from the field and the lethal pair of Dwight Howard and Rashard Lewis overwhelmed L.A. on that historic night as the Magic pick up first ever Finals victory for the franchise.
7-Lakers at Magic Game 4, 2009 NBA Finals – Agonizing game for Magic fans to reflect on but extraordinary game. Orlando had the Lakers on the ropes but Derek Fisher’s enormous 3-pointers late in the fourth and OT helped by Magic missed free throws by Dwight Howard and Hedo Turkoglu gave the Lakers the win and Magic fans having to ask themselves what if.
8- Heat at Magic – Game 3 , 1997 Eastern Conference 1st round. The Magic were on the verge on getting swept. They were down 2-0 in the best of 5 series against the Heat and were down 20 points in the 2nd quarter. Penny Hardaway decided he was not ready for the season to endagainst the Magic’s archrivals, the Heat, in the First Round of the 1997 playoffs, Penny erupted for 42 points to help save the Magic season in a come from behind win.
9-Heat at Magic – Game 4 , 1997 Eastern Conference 1st round. Penny Hardaway vs Heat the Sequal. It proved to be Penny Hardaway’s final hoorah. In back-to-back games against the Magic’s archrivals, the Heat, in the First Round of the 1997 playoffs, Penny erupted for 42 and 41 points in Games 3 and 4 to help even up the series. Miami, however, would protect its home court and advance in a decisive Game 5.
10-Celtics at Magic Game 4, 2009 of Eastern Conference Semifinals– current Magic Glen Davis beats the Magic in the playoffs as Davis canned an unimaginable game-winner for the Celtics in Game 4 of the 2009 playoffs. However, the Magic rebounded to beat the Celtics in 7 games.
11-76ers at Magic Game 1 , 2009 Eastern Conference 1st round playoffs– Andre Iguodala hit game-winner as the 76ers come back from 18 pts down for the upset win over Orlando . The Magic rebounded to win the series in 6.
12- Spurs at Magic February 9, 2007– The Magic comes back from 18 point deficit against the eventual NBA Champion San Antonio Spurs. This game is remembered for one of the most incredible plays to end a game in Magic and NBA History, Watch Here.
13- Lakers at Magic- February 22, 1998– This game marked the return of Shaquille O’Neal who left the Magic to join the Lakers. Nick Anderson memorable shot gave the Magic a 96-94 win over Shaq and Lakers. See if you can find Jerry O’Neill where he is sitting when Anderson hits the shot which starts at the 10 minute mark.
14-Hornets at Magic Game 3, 2002 1st round playoffs– Before refs could look at replays to determine whether a shot was released before a buzzer, there were instances where game-winning shots that should have counted were negated. It happened in 2002 when Baron Davis banked in a 3-pointer at the regulation buzzer. Charlotte, nonetheless, prevailed in overtime.
15-Pacers at Magic Game 4, 2012 NBA 1st Round Eastern Conference Playoffs– This game would have likely been a top 10 candidate if the Magic prevailed, but even so, rallying back from a 19-point fourth-quarter deficit to force overtime made this night very special in what has turn out to be the Magic’s last playoff home game to date. J.J. Redick canned a huge 3-pointer in the final minute of regulation, but George Hill’s two free throws in the extra session proved most substantial. Watch highlights here
16- Nuggets at Magic- December 30, 1990– Scott Skiles sets an NBA Record 30 Assts as the Magic defeated the Denver Nuggets.
17- Celtics at Magic- January 27, 2008– The Magic beat the eventual NBA Champions Boston Celtics on a buzzer beating three pointer by Hedo Turkoglu.
18- Heat at Magic- December 31, 2012– Nik Vucevic set Magic franchise record for most rebounds in a game by any Magic player with 29 but LeBron James led the Heat with 36 pts and 11 asst as the defending NBA Champion Miami Heat prevail in overtime.
19- Heat at Magic- February 3, 2011– This game is all about LeBron James, James scored 51 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assts as the Miami Heat held off a late big run by the Orlando Magic as James scored the Heat’s last 11 points of the game after starting the game by scoring 23 points in the first quarter. The Heat won 104-100. This was James 9th 50+ game of his career.
20- Knicks at Magic- November 6, 1989– The Magic first ever franchise win comes against Patrick Ewing and the Knicks 118-110.
21- Heat at Magic- November 6, 1992– This game marked the NBA debut of Magic rookie Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq scored 12 points and 18 rebounds but it was Nick Anderson who stole the show. Anderson scored 42 points, 8 rebounds, 6 asst and 5 steals in the win over the Miami Heat.
22- Bulls at Magic- January 15, 2014– Magic’s first triple overtime game since 1998. Victor Oladipo scored 35 points. Clutch shot from Jameer Nelson to send the game to the first overtime and acourse Glen Davis 3 point shot to help send it to a third overtime. The Bulls would prevail.
23- Wizards at Magic- March 10, 2004– Tracy McGrady scored a franchise record 62 points as the Magic defeated the Washington Wizards.
24- Hornets at Magic- February 8, 2010– Vince Carter plays his best game as a Magic scoring 48 points to lead the Magic to a come from behind victory over the New Orleans Hornets 123-117.
25- Raptors at Magic – April 22, 2008- Game 2 Eastern Conference First Round, The Magic hold off Chris Bosh and the Toronto Raptors 104-103 behind Dwight Howard’s 29 points and 20 rebounds. The Magic would win the series in 5.