If whether or not the Orlando Magic ought to bench Jameer Nelson in favor of Gilbert Arenas wasn't a hot topic before last night's Magic win romp over the San Antonio Spurs, it sure is now. Arenas, in just his third game with the team, tallied 14 points, 6 rebounds, and 9 assists in 29 minutes, and in so doing earned high praise from his coach and, in Tim Duncan and Gregg Popovich, a pair of future Hall-of-Famers from the opposition. "That's a good all-around game," Van Gundy said, indicating Arenas' box-score statistics.
And indeed it was, coming at Nelson's expense on a night when the Magic's starting point guard suffered from dehydration. Nelson played 21 minutes in the victory, and though he performed well--he scored 7 points on 3-of-4 shooting, and dished 4 assists--he was not as big a factor as Arenas was.
"I don't want to start," Arenas said following the win. "This team is too talented."
If nothing else, though, Arenas demonstrated Thursday night he's still capable of producing in a major way at the NBA level. Should Van Gundy lose confidence in Nelson, Arenas may be a viable option to replace him.
Van Gundy, for now, wants to stick with Nelson as his starter. "I don't know," was his response when asked of the possibility of replacing Nelson with Arenas. Later, he said "I don't think it matters a whole lot" with regard to who starts and who comes off the bench. The decision to keep Arenas there, he said, is that "he most easily plays two positions," referring to Arenas' ability to play shooting guard if called upon. Regardless of which one starts, Van Gundy said, Arenas and Nelson will play between 28 and 32 minutes per game. The same is true of J.J. Redick, Jason Richardson, and Hedo Turkoglu.