The Orlando Magic recently welcomed back one star guard, but they lost another one on Monday.
Steve Francis had 30 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in Monday’s 109-102 win over the Atlanta Hawks—just Orlando’s second victory in 12 games. The game was Francis’ second back after serving a three-game suspension for kicking a photographer during a game in Seattle.
The Magic, who snapped their three-game losing streak, are two games behind Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ve really been struggling, but it’s good to get a victory,” said Francis, whose team snapped a three-game losing streak. “One thing that (interim) coach (Chris Jent) did was he told us that every single game is pretty much like a playoff series. You’ve got to prepare for them like they’re your last game.
“Hopefully this can start something good for us.”
However, Nelson played just three minutes before leaving with a left rib cage injury. An MRI exam Tuesday showed a torn muscle, and the first-year playmaker could miss a maximum of two weeks.
Nelson is averaging 8.1 points and 2.9 assists in 69 games. He started at point guard for several weeks but has been coming off the bench since Jent, who likes to play Francis at the point, took over as coach.
“Jameer said he felt OK, but it would be an understatement to say it would hurt if we lost him,” Jent said after Monday’s game.
“Steve played great,” said Jent. “He was really aggressive, took smart shots and found his teammates. When he gets up in the 11, 12, 15 free throw range, you know he’s playing well.”
The Raptors lost 103-91 to the Eastern Conference-leading Miami Heat on Tuesday, failing to string together their second road winning streak of the season. Rafer Alston scored 19 points and Chris Bosh added 16 and 13 rebounds for Toronto.
Morris Peterson, who scored 15 points, was ejected in the fourth quarter after he and Miami’s Dwayne Wade became tangled up and exchanged words. Coach Sam Mitchell was tossed less than two minutes later for arguing a foul called against Jalen Rose.
Each of the 10 players who played in the first half scored at least two points for the Raptors, who have five players averaging double figures. Toronto has lost five of seven overall.