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Magic show progress despite fourth straight loss

The Magic lost their fourth straight on Wednesday night, but it didn't come without some improvements.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

For a young team in the NBA, a long losing streak can derail any progress that may have been made to that point. Losing brings bad habits, and with bad habits the losses continue to pile up, no matter how hard you work to try and fix the mistakes.

After losing four games in a row a whopping nine times last season -- which equated to over 63 percent of their total losses on the season -- the Orlando Magic saw their first four game losing streak of the new season after their loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday night. While the loss was another bad one in an increasing list of bad losses, the Magic did some things better.

Following three straight games of allowing their opposition to score over 100 points -- including 115 points to the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, their second highest in-regulation total of the season -- the Magic clamped down, holding the Pacers to just 96 points. Moreover, the defense, in general, was more crisp, limiting some of the easy looks that had plagued them in previous games. Overall, the defense showed some life, some improvement, something that seemed ever so bleak after their three straight embarrassing losses.

The Magic's offense also found themselves doing some good things, with the team finding open shots throughout the entirety of the game. Those good looks simply just wouldn't fall, as the team shot 6-of-31 from beyond the arc, and a not-so-great 40.5 percent for the entire contest. Needless to say, their inability to see the ball go through the hoop hurt them in the end.

Yet, despite shots not falling, and the still occasional lapses on defense, the Magic found themselves with a chance, albeit slim, to take home the victory late. That, in and of itself after their previous three games, was progress for the young Magic bunch.

Coach Scott Skiles said that it showed progress, but it was also frustrating to see some of his teams lack of effort late in the game. "When the game is within five points and the building starts to get into it a little bit, momentum is staring to shift, and maybe we can wrestle the lead from them and shots go up and we've got guys standing flat footed while they've got guys jumping, that's not progress," said the Magic's first-year head man. "In some areas we were a little bit better tonight."

Skiles did admit that his defense "wasn't as bad tonight" as it had been previously, but their issues on the glass killed them once again. Every time they were able to make a run and cut the Pacers lead to a possession, the visitors always seemed to come up with a big shot, or an extra possession to take some of the air out of the Magic's growing bubble.

Evan Fournier, who played through a toe injury, said that the teams inability to hit shots was "very frustrating." Despite their struggles shooting the ball, Fournier was pleased with how the teams defense was, saying he thought it was "actually pretty good," citing his team holding the Pacers to 42 percent shooting and under 100 points. "They shot the ball, what, 45 percent? Scored 96 points? It's not bad at all, it's just... We were just not good enough tonight," said the Frenchman.

Nikola Vucevic, who struggled on the glass once again, thought that the teams defense was better overall on the night. "I think we were pretty aggressive in the right spots, we just have to keep it up. The energy, the focus, and the will on the little things is really it," said the big man.

Overall, Wednesday's performance was a nice change of pace for a Magic bunch that was quickly seeing their ship take on more and more water, sinking a little deeper by the day. While it was a far from perfect performance, it still gives them some renewed life heading into an important back-to-back over the weekend.

They aren't going to get too down on themselves, especially considering the fact the last thing they want to do is return to their continuous losing ways of the last three seasons.

"We've got to trust the process. We're working really hard. There's no way that we're going back to losing like last year. We're working too hard for that. We've just got to trust each other and believe that it's going to be alright," said Fournier.