Magic Fading Out of Playoffs

After suffering a 110-102 loss at the Los Angles on Mar. 16, the Orlando Magic saw their record drop 31-33, tying them with the Philadelphia 76ers for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The next day the Magic took serious action.

The next day, Magic General Manager John Weisbrod announced the resignation of head coach Johnny Davis and named assistant coach Chris Jent as head coach on an interim basis. Along with firing Davis, Magic management released assistant coach Ron Ekker.

Orlando became the seventh team at the time to make a coaching change this season, joining the Memphis Grizzles, New York Knicks, Portland Trail Blazers, Denver Nuggets, Los Angles Lakers and Minnesota Timberwolves.

“We work in a bottom-line business,” said Weisbrod according to a FoxSports.com article. “It is our responsibility to do everything possible to create the best opportunity for success.

Davis, who took for current Boston Celtics head coach Glenn “Doc” Rivers as head coach back on November 17, 2003 when the team had a 1-10 and proceeded to lose 19 straight games. Later on that season, the Magic with Davis at the controls had a 13-game losing streak, which included seven consecutive games of losing by 15 or more, an NBA record. “It caught me completely off,” Davis told the Orlando Sentinel.

In his short coaching tenor in Orlando, Davis compiled a record of 51-84, which includes this season’s 31-33 mark. Overall, Davis has a head coaching record, which includes a 22-60 record with Philadelphia (1996-97) stands at 73-144.

Jent, who was signed as an assistant coach on Aug. 12, 2004 becomes the seventh coach in Orlando’s franchise history. He was with Philadelphia a year ago as an assistant coach/player development, according to an article from www.nba.com/magic.

In 10 years of professional basketball play, Jent played two years in the NBA, including being a member of the 1994 NBA Champion Houston Rockets. He also played with the New York Knicks during the 1996-97 campaign, while also playing internationally in Australia, Italy, Spain and Greece.

“He brings a great work ethic, excellent X’s and O’s knowledge and has been a part of winning teams as a player,” said Weisbrod.

After a disappointing 21-61 campaign a year ago, the Magic reshaped the team trading superstar forward/guard Tracy McGrady to the Rockets in exchange for guards Steve Francis, Cuttino Mobley and center Kelvin Cato.

In free agency, the team signed guard/forward Hedo Turkoglu and drafted forward/center Dwight Howard (11.0 ppg and 10.0 rpg) with the first overall pick in last summer’s NBA Draft.

for veteran Doug Christie. The trade unfortunately has not panned out well for the Magic as Christie has only averaged 5.7ppg on 37 percent shooting. He currently is on the injured list with bone spurs in his left ankle.

On top of that, Turkoglu suffered a fractured distal radial head in his right wrist light in the fourth quarter in a 102-97 loss at Charlotte that will keep him out the remainder of the season. The Magic forward was averaging a career best 14.0 ppg. In the last 11 contest, he had risen his point average to 18.8 per contest.

The Magic on Feb. 1 had a record of 25-20 and were in the race for at least the fourth seed in the East. Since then they have gone 6-13, which included seven consecutive loses.

The Magic however, did snap out of their losing ways with a 97-92 victory at the Portland Trail Blazers, without Francis who was serving the first of a three-game suspension by the NBA for kicking a courtside photographer in the fourth quarter of Orlando’s 98-90 loss at Seattle one game ago.

The league had suspended the Magic’s starting guard indefinitely, but after further investigation, the NBA League Office gave Francis a three-game suspension for his action, which he started serving on Saturday at Portland. Francis missed Orlando’s next contest at Charlotte Bobcats and will miss the back end of home-and-home series with Charlotte Bobcats as they will play in Orlando on Thursday.

“I told him the act was inexcusable, but that in the larger picture, it depicts him as someone he’s not,” Jent told FoxSports.com. “He really has a heart of gold, and an act like this portrays him as something different between the lines and it really cheats himself.”

A lot of why Orlando has struggled in recent weeks has been due to a lack of focus and the fact that the team has just not played well.

In their 98-92 loss versus the New Jersey Nets on Mar. 13, the Magic were hit with several technical fouls and were involved in scuffles with Nets players.

Reserve guard Deshawn Stevenson, according to a recap article from that game on www.nba.com, booted the basketball into the stands at the final buzzer and reserve forward Stacey Augmon squirted lotion on reporters in the locker room. .

With the team currently at 32-34 and in a serious fight for the final playoff spot, the Magic know that this is a very important stretch that they have as their next five games will be at home. If they have any plans of getting into the playoffs, this is the stretch where they have to make it happen.