10. Nikola Vucevic’s big game against the Los Angeles Lakers
There were many performances that led to Vucevic getting his first All-Star nod this season, but few were as impressive as his 31-point, 15-rebound, seven-assist night against the Los Angeles Lakers in late November.
The Magic had already beaten the Lakers at home just over one week prior to this, and Vucevic’s big night helped his team sweep the season series against the Lakers. This was a game where he was at his all-encompassing best offensively, with everyone else moving around him as he scored in a variety of ways.
What made the game from Vucevic all the more impressive was the fact that this was at a point when the Lakers were still healthy, before LeBron James was lost to a groin injury and Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram were still out on the court too. They were still in the thick of the playoff race as well, needing games as much as the Magic did to build early momentum.
It also served to establish early on that this was Vucevic’s team, and that they would go as far as he could carry them. We know now that it would be the playoffs (even if some fans turned on him once they’d gotten there for some lackluster performances), but at that point in the campaign, it was so exciting to have a dominant player who could just help the Magic to win games.
There would be other great games, including another monster one in a win over the Raptors, but in the bright lights of L.A. Vucevic shone brightest, and it gave the organization great confidence that the Magic could surprise some people throughout the year.