CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Orlando guard Steve Francis was suspended
three games Monday by the NBA for kicking a courtside photographer
"This definitely doesn't make it easy," interim coach Chris
Jent said before the Magic played the Charlotte Bobcats. "You lose
your catalyst, your guy. We have great players, but it's hard to
replace Steve Francis."
The NBA initially suspended Francis indefinitely after he kicked
a photographer in the fourth quarter of the Magic's loss in Seattle
on March 18. After an investigation, the league settled on the
Francis began his suspension at Portland on Saturday and will
sit out Orlando's next two games, both against the Bobcats.
The Magic (32-34) are tied with Philadelphia for the eighth and
final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. In their first game
without Francis, the Magic won 97-92 to end a season-high
seven-game losing streak.
The victory was the first for Jent, who was promoted last week
when Johnny Davis was fired because the Magic were underperforming.
Now Jent has the toughest task of his young career in keeping
Orlando headed in the right direction without its star player.
Francis averages 21.4 points and 6.9 assists a game.
Jent said he and Francis plan to meet on Tuesday in Orlando. The
two spoke earlier Monday, when Francis learned of the suspension.
"He was matter of fact about it and ready to move on," Jent
said. "He said he was looking forward to a great practice the day
Jameer Nelson, who had been a starter until the Magic moved him
to have a scorer come off the bench, takes over for Francis. He
scored 15 points against Portland.
Jent said he and Francis planned to meet on Tuesday in Orlando,
but the talk would be strictly basketball-related with Francis
offering what he has observed from watching the Magic on
television. The two have already discussed Francis kicking the
"I told him the act was inexcusable, but that in the larger
picture, it depicts him as someone he's not," Jent said. "He
really has a heart of gold, and an act like this portrays him as
something different between the lines and it really cheats