Orlando Magic learned some valuable lessons in their losing streak

The Orlando Magic dropped back-to-back home games against the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors but learned some valuable lessons in defeat.

Sacramento Kings v Orlando Magic
Sacramento Kings v Orlando Magic / Rich Storry/GettyImages

A loss is a loss.

And the Orlando Magic coaching staff has to turn back to the drawing board after back-to-back losses against the Sacramento Kings and the Golden State Warriors. There are no moral victories for a team in the playoff chase.

Moral victories are for bottom-feeder teams. The Magic must right the ship before this losing streak gets out of hand. They have to keep pace in the race to finish third with the New York Knicks (two games ahead) and Cleveland Cavaliers (1.5 games ahead).

The Magic have to stay ahead and raise their level of play. The goal, after all, is to play their best basketball at the end of the season.

The urgency to win must be there too.

For some reason, the Magic have been lethargic in the first quarter of these last two games, putting the team in a hole it has to climb out of.

The Magic lost the first quarter in both of their last games, struggling to hit shots and facing a deficit. Wednesday's result was alarming as the Magic could only score 11 points in the first quarter on an icy 3-for-22 shooting.

It was almost like the Magic felt like they were the established veteran team and they had accomplished more than the Warriors.

Some of it too was a change in the starting lineup. Gary Harris' absence was certainly felt as the Magic have dominated minutes with Harris in the game lately. Still, there has to be something more considering how little Harris shoots. His floor-spacing cannot be that valuable.

And that is where the Magic's coaching staff has to go back to the drawing board and figure out how to keep the players motivated, focused and in rhythm at this point in the season.

They will get some good news with Harris taken off the injury report for Friday's game after a two-game absence. That familiarity should help.

But the Magic are experiencing something very new. They control their own destiny in the playoff race -- trailing the fourth-place Cleveland Cavaliers by 1.5 games and leading the sixth-place Indiana Pacers by two games. They can either climb the standings or fall back down to the pack.

In either case, they have to get used to being the team that opponents want to raise their energy against and beat. They have to get used to playing high-pressure games against teams as desperate to win as they are -- like the Golden State Warriors were Wednesday as they fend off the Houston Rockets in the Play-in Chase.

The Magic will have to raise their level of play to end the season because of this. And that takes extra effort and focus.

We did not get a chance to see that extra effort against the Kings or the Warriors for the most part. If it did come, it came too late. The Magic were blitzed early and found their fire later in the game -- they trailed the Warriors by one with about three minutes to play before struggling to finish the game.

Orlando can find that energy eventually clearly.

Against the Kings, it was a reserve that looked like he was the best player on the court. Jonathan Isaac scored 17 points in eight minutes and also had a few rebounds and a couple of blocks. The energy that Isaac showed is the type of energy that the entire team should have come out with.

His passion lifted the team and created a winnable scenario for the Magic in the waning part of the game. The whole bench stepped up to carry the group.

The Magic would have had a better chance to win the game had his teammates matched his energy on both sides of the ball.

The coaching staff might have to rethink his minute restriction when the team is playing that poorly and he is playing that well. Orlando is still not quite working with a playoff rotation.

Coach Jamahl Mosley showed some flexibility in Wednesday's game sticking with Jonathan Isaac and Cole Anthony late in the game as he and the Magic searched for any offense.

Anthony was the key to keeping things close in Wednesday's game against the Warriors. Anthony finished the game with 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists. His stat line was better than both Paolo Banchero and Franz Wagner as the starters struggled to get anything going.

Anthony's three-point shot-making ability was on full display and created an opportunity for the Magic to pull off a late win. But again the Magic would have had a better chance to win had Anthony's teammates matched his energy and will to win.

After all, it takes a team effort.

That is what has been missing. Perhaps Harris' return will settle everything back down. But it should not take a perfect lineup to play with the intensity and focus they need. The Magic have to raise their level of play against the Playoff competition they are facing.

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With the Magic homestand coming to a close, they have a chance to correct the mistakes that were made during these back-to-back losses. It starts with the intensity they bring from the jump.