Stan Van Gundy believes statistics can tell objective truths about basketball teams.
And when he examines the numbers, particularly the defensive numbers, he dislikes what the numbers say about the Orlando Magic.
The Magic entered their game Friday night against the New Jersey Nets ranked 11th in the NBA in points allowed per possession, according to Basketball-Reference.com. The Magic had permitted opponents to score 1.025 points per possession.
"Numbers don't lie," Van Gundy said.
"If you're still the 11th-best defensive team when you head into the playoffs, it's not gonna happen."
Van Gundy likes the points-per-possession (PPP) stat more than field-goal percentage because PPP takes into account 3-point shooting and points scored off personal fouls.
Dwight Howard has won the NBA Defensive Player of the Year Award three consecutive seasons, but he cannot do it all. Indeed, it would be scary for Van Gundy or a Magic fan to contemplate just how bad the Magic defense could be if Howard no longer played for the team.
Apart from Howard, all of the Magic starters are considered by league insiders at best as average defenders. Jameer Nelson and J.J. Redick, for example, lack size and quickness.
Given those deficiencies, it's critical for the Magic to be good team defenders. Their defensive rotations need to improve, and their hustle needs to be top-notch at all times.
As with the NBA's other 29 teams, the Magic's development on defense has been hampered by a lack of practice opportunities during this compressed season.
Sticking by FeganThe rumor mill is churning that Dwight Howard will part ways with his agent, Dan Fegan, after Howard was quoted by RealGM as saying he had received some "bad advice."
But Kevin Samples, Howard's manager, told the Orlando Sentinel that Howard will not dismiss Fegan.
"He is definitely not firing Dan Fegan," Samples said. "Dan has been nothing but work his hardest to do the best thing for Dwight and the Dwight Howard brand. He is the strongest member of our business team, and he will not be going anywhere."
Fegan did not return a message from the Sentinel on Friday afternoon.
Nets repercussionsHoward's decision to opt in for 2012-13 could have major ripple effects on the rest of the league, particularly the Nets.
It now seems more likely than ever that All-Star point guard Deron Williams, a Dallas-area native, will give strong consideration to signing with the Dallas Mavericks.
On Friday, Williams reiterated that he will become a free agent this off-season.
"He made the decision that he thought was best for him," Williams said of Howard. "I can't be mad about that."
Still, Nets guard DeShawn Stevenson said that Howard's decision affected Williams.
"I think D-Will was kind of disappointed,' " Stevenson said to reporters. "He probably said he wasn't, but I saw it in his face. He was kind of disappointed with that whole ordeal."
Layups•Shooting guard Jason Richardson returned to the Magic starting lineup after he missed three consecutive games with a left-ankle sprain.
•Williams sat out his fourth consecutive game because of a strained right calf.
•Magic players said Howard did not tell them during the plane ride from San Antonio to Orlando that he was going to waive his early termination option.
•Van Gundy was asked to name the time Thursday that he learned Howard had waived his early termination option. "Maybe noontime [or] a little bit after," Van Gundy answered. "I was doing my New Jersey film. I don't really remember exactly. It was a big moment for our organization, but it wasn't like the JFK moment where everybody remembers what they were doing, you know? It wasn't quite that big."
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