Orlando's D deserves some credit

Updated: February 26, 2005, 12:17 AM ET
By John Hollinger | ESPN Insider
Quick, who has a better defense, Orlando or Indiana?

Probably 99 percent of you will say Indiana. Ask a group of NBA beat writers and columnists the same question, and they'd all stump for the Pacers too.

The numbers on the court don't lie, either. The Pacers held LeBron and the Cavaliers to well under a 100 on Friday in a 106-82 victory in Indianapolis.

Even Orlando would concede the point. The Magic consider themselves to be a terrible defensive team, as general manager Jon Weisbrod recently vented.

"Our personnel doesn't warrant us being the worst defensive team in the league," he said after a recent loss to Golden State. "I think we need to look elsewhere for where the issues are."

Meanwhile, many believes Indiana's defense is what's keeping it in the playoff chase. On Monday, a newspaper column opined, "Indiana is once again one of the league's premier defensive teams, but have underachieved because of an offense stuck in neutral."

At first glance, the stats seem to support this idea. Orlando ranks a measly 27th in the league in points allowed per game, giving up 100.5, while Indiana is a lofty fifth at 93.4. So that settles it, right? All the conventional wisdom says Indiana is the superior defense.

But there's one catch: Orlando is just as good.