Coach Chris Jent picks up his first win as the Magic snap their 7 game skid and beat the Blazers, 97-92. So far, I like the things that we're seeing from the Magic. The biggest area of improvement is bench play. Hedo Turkoglu is slowly rounding back into shape and we are getting good production from Tony Battie.
Grant Hill led this team tonight to victory. The effort he put forth set the tone for the rest of the team. Hill finished the game with 23 points and 8 rebounds. DeShawn Stevenson, starting in his second consecutive game, contributed 16 points and 4 rebounds. Jameer Nelson starts at point guard in place of Steve Francis, who was out due to league suspension, and finishes with 15 points, 5 assists and 6 rebounds. Most of Nelson's points came in the fourth quarter as he helped the Magic make a small run to pad their lead to 10. The rest of the way, they played strong defense and kept the Blazers from making the big plays.
For the second night in a row, the Magic hold their opponent under 100 points. While the defense is not top-notch, it has been a lot stronger. Stevenson is defending well at the shooting guard position and our starting bigs have set the tone inside early on in the game. Dwight Howard finishes the night with 12 rebounds and Kelvin Cato adds 12 points and 8 rebounds.
The Magic only commit 9 turnovers while the Blazers turned the ball over 18 times. In the last two games, this has been a huge area of improvement for the Magic. Also, the Magic outscored the Blazers in the paint, 48-30 - thanks in part to 19 offensive rebounds.
So, Coach picks up his first NBA win and the Magic stop the losing streak. With two games against Charlotte and another against Atlanta at home, things are looking up a little bit. While we still play a few good teams, 10 of the last 16 are at home. It's time to buckle down for that playoff run. Are you ready?