Chris Jent will try again for his first win as Orlando’s coach when the struggling Magic visit the Portland Trail Blazers.
Jent was named interim coach Thursday after the team fired Johnny Davis with 18 games left in the season. Jent, who was Davis’ assistant, now officially has one game of head coaching experience at the pro level.
“I was very surprised, but also very pleased,” Jent said after Thursday’s practice. “To coach at the highest level is phenomenal.”
However, the Magic lost their seventh straight in Jent’s debut Friday, falling 98-90 to Seattle. Steve Francis had 19 points for the Magic, who fell one game behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
Magic ownership is hoping the coaching change will energize the team.
“Certainly it’s not the way we would like things to play out,” general manager John Weisbrod said. “I still feel like we have our fate in our own hands, but I don’t know how much longer we would have had that if we didn’t get some kind of a jolt.”
Jent may not have much success against Portland, which has won 11 straight against Orlando.
The Blazers are coming off their ninth loss in 10 games, a 98-94 defeat to Dallas on Thursday. Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Damon Stoudamire each had 20 points, and Joel Przybilla and Sebastian Telfair added 16 apiece for Portland.
“We’re getting better,” Abdur-Rahim said. “If anything, we can feel good about that, but we still lost.”
The Blazers were coming off Wednesday’s 108-77 loss at Houston.
“Our team was absolute heart and soul tonight,” said interim coach Kevin Pritchard, who is 1-7 since taking over for Maurice Cheeks. “We’re getting some guys in there, playing the right way.”