By Josh Cohen
November 28, 2012

In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.

ORLANDO -- It just seems like the wrong time to have to contend with such a brutal and grueling schedule.

First it was Boston on Sunday and that heartbreaking loss.

Then on Wednesday, San Antonio and its masterful experience and execution came rolling into town to demolish Orlando.

On Friday, it’s Brooklyn’s turn, an opponent that has already defeated the Magic twice this season.

You would think a relaxer game or two after that. But no, the Magic have to fly out to L.A. to start one of those always challenging and demanding West coast trips.

From Dwight Howard and the Lakers to fast-paced and home-crowd friendly opponents, the Warriors and Jazz, it’s just not going to get any easier over the next week.

There is nobody to blame. It’s just the luck of the draw when it comes to scheduling.

Here is the main point:

The Magic can’t let the outcome of these next several games dictate their performance for the rest of the season.

Let’s be honest, for a moment. It’s very possible Orlando will be 10 games under .500 by the time it returns from the West in mid-December. That’s not a certainty, but based on history of rebuilding Eastern Conference teams playing out West, it’s just a reality that on very few occasions you rack up victories.

Here is the schedule after that game in Phoenix on Dec. 9 for the rest of the month:

Home Games: Atlanta, Golden State, Minnesota, Washington, Utah, New Orleans, Toronto and Miami

Away Games: Charlotte, Toronto and Washington

It’s very possible that if the Magic are motivated and don’t let an undesirable record stand in their way, Orlando can soar back into the pack by New Year’s Day.

That has been my projection all along.

I said before the season started that the Magic would be 7-13 after the first 20 games of the season. They are on pace for that.

But I figured that Orlando would be even in wins and losses by New Year’s.

So what does the Magic want for Christmas? How about a big winning streak to close out the year?

It’s fascinating the way the schedule is. Teams like Philadelphia and Milwaukee, two of Orlando’s biggest competitors this season for any of the final playoff spots in the East, started with such cupcake schedules, while Orlando has had to deal with an arduous one.

But naturally, the tide will turn and it will be teams like the Sixers and Bucks who will be faced with raised difficulty and the Magic with a slew of winnable games.

Again, though, it is imperative for Orlando to not stare and grim at the standings on Dec. 9. It probably won’t be pretty.

Rather, the Magic have to zoom in on beating every inferior opponent they get their hands on while the schedule softens up.

For now, let’s hope for gritty efforts – not like the one Wednesday – and wait for the schedule to become more soothing.

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