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Despite another Magic loss, light appears at end of tunnel

December 21, 2010
FRANKFURT AM MAIN, GERMANY - JUNE 23:  Dirk Nowitzki looks on during a press conference at ING Diba bank on June 23, 2009 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  (Photo by Mario Vedder/Bongarts/Getty Images)

The Magic experienced another loss Tuesday night, falling to the streaking Dallas Mavericks by a score of 105-99.  Despite the 4th consecutive loss (8 out of last 9), this one somehow felt different.  The Magic struggled at points of the game on both offense and defense, yet they never gave up.  They had multiple chances throughout the game to fold and wilt away, but the team overcame another poor shooting night to make it a competitive game down to the last possession.

The team was often out of place on both offense and defense and that is to be expected for a group of guys that are all playing together for the first time.  They are essentially on the second day of training camp and these are the types of mistakes that teams make when they don’t know systems or player preferences.  It may seem silly to say that these professional, NBA players have to take time to adjust to individual idiosyncrasies of other millionaire players, but it is reality.

“We gave up 50 percent but we made some mistakes down the stretch that were just because of us not being together in terms of our system.  I thought that they shot the ball very well tonight” – Stan Van Gungy on his team’s defense.

Even Stan Van Gundy was vocal after the game about how proud he was of the team tonight.  He described tonight’s game as a “good step forward” and reinforced that this is a very difficult situation for a group of guys to adjust to.  He felt that the team had a lot of positives to take out of this game including: attacking the zone well, better ball movement and most importantly… showing fight.  It’s easy to give into frustration and back down, but this new group did the opposite.

More news and note from tonight’s game below:

–          The starters for tonight’s game were once again different for the Magic.  Jameer Nelson, J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu and Dwight Howard started and all played at least 36+ minutes.  With Malik Allen injured, Stan thought that it was important to have the size and versatility of Brandon Bass off the bench.

–          Dwight Howard led the Magic with 26 points and 23 rebounds.  Apparently Dwight is sick of reading Kevin Love box scores, as this was his third consecutive game with 20+ rebounds.

–          The free throw story for the Magic was definitely a different story than usual.  The team attempted ZERO free throws in the first half and only 12 for the game.  However, they hit all 12 of those free throws.  The team averages 25 a game.

–          Dirk Nowitzki struggled tonight (4-13, 17 points) with Hedo Turkoglu guarding him, yet still managed to pass a major NBA milestone.  Dirk passed Larry Bird for 25th all-time on the NBA scoring list.

–          J.J. Redick continued to show his immense value by stepping into the starting lineup and scoring 21 points in 36 minutes.

–          Earl Clark made his Magic debut (6 points on 3-3 shooting) and actually showed positive minutes while on the court.  The #freeEarlClark hashtag was only a few more made baskets or missed defensive assignments from trending nationally.

–          The Magic set the franchise record for attendance during tonight’s game.  The announced attendance was 19,057.  The previous record was the Heat game earlier this season (18,936).  The additional bump was definitely due to a swarm of media members eager to check out the mega-trade and it’s early results.

I am not a believer in moral victories, but if there was ever such a thing… this was it.  Day three of training camp starts tomorrow.

The Magic are back in action Thursday night against the San Antonio Spurs and their league leading record.  Game time is set for 8pm and will be televised nationally on 8PM.

Brian Serra is the founder of MagicBasketballOnline.com.  You can follow/add him on Twitter and on Facebook.  Compare pricing of Orlando Magic tickets for all future games using TiqIQ.

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