If there’s ever a time to go for a ridiculous dunk in traffic, a 30-point blowout is it. Even if you miss, most people have either changed the channel or are content watching the basketball equivalent of an NPR talk show: background noise that don’t mean much of anything. But last night the Magic’s Terrence Ross woke everyone up by dunking poor Charlotte Hornets center Willy Hernangomez into limbo:
On a night when not much happened around the NBA—the Pelicans and Knicks both won a game, at least!—Ross’s dunk was a rare highlight. And while, sure, Hernangomez probably could and should have gotten his body closer to the baseline to cut off Ross’s path, it’s not like he didn’t challenge the dunk; Ross pulled off a perfect double-pump and jammed home an NBA Jam-worthy dunk.
Since being banished to Orlando in the Serge Ibaka trade back in the 2016-2017 season, Ross has quietly carved himself a decent career. He’ll likely never live up to his draft billing—his athleticism and three-point shooting made Toronto take him with the eighth pick in 2012—but the pressure of performing for the perennially playoff-bound Raptors has given way for the purgatory of Orlando. This has been the best season of Ross’s career; he’s averaging 14.6 points on 38 percent shooting from deep, giving him a career-high 55.5 true shooting percentage.
The Magic are also seemingly turning a corner: After walloping Charlotte 127-89 on Thursday, Orlando has won its last five games and seven of its last eight. They’ve beaten playoff teams during the stretch, too: Indiana, Brooklyn, and Milwaukee have all tasted Orlando’s wrath over the last fortnight, and now the Magic are only 1.5 games back of the Miami-Detroit clusterfuck for the East’s eighth seed. Even if this surge doesn’t end in a playoff appearance, dunks like Ross’s and wins like Thursday’s are starting to make Orlando a fun League Pass team, which is more than it has been in years.