Magic Classic Wins: McGrady's 62-Point Game vs. Wizards

ORLANDO - Even though he authored arguably the best individual performance in Orlando Magic history in March of 2004, when he shredded the Washington Wizards for a franchise-record 62 points, Tracy McGrady always looks back on that night with a tinge of regret for a couple of reasons.

First, McGrady is still somewhat upset that the most prolific scoring night of his Hall of Fame career came during a season in which the Magic were well out of the playoff chase and would ultimately finish with a disappointing 21-41 record.

Then, there’s this bit of blunt, regretful honesty from McGrady about his historic night in Magic pinstripes: ``Sixty-two should have been 70,’’ he said recently while shaking his head as if the game was a night earlier. ``Or even 75 if I had made my free throws and hadn’t gotten tired in the fourth quarter.’’

McGrady, a four-time all-star and a two-time scoring champ in his four seasons with the Magic from 2000-04, breathed some life into a forgettable 2003-04 season when reached some rarified air at the former TD Waterhouse Centre on March 10, 2004. That night, McGrady made 20 of 37 shots and scored a franchise-record 62 points in Orlando’s 108-99 defeat of the Wizards.

At the time, McGrady was just the 17thplayer in NBA history to score at least 60 points in a game. Also, he became just the sixth player in NBA history to record at least 60 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in a game, joining Wilt Chamberlain, Elgin Baylor (twice), Rick Barry, Michael Jordan and David Robinson. Additionally, his 62 points easily topped the previous Magic record for scoring in a game when Shaquille O’Neal battered the Minnesota Timberwolves for 53 points in 1994.

With the 2019-20 NBA season not expected to return until July 31 at Disney World with 22 teams – including the 30-35 Magic as the East’s No. 8 seed – Fox Sports Florida has used much of April, May and June to show select classic games from the Magic’s glorious, 31-year history. After it aired Orlando’s runs to the 1995 and 2009 NBA Finals, Fox Sports Florida has shifted its focus this week to McGrady’s electrifying four-year run in a Magic uniform from 2000-04.

On Saturday at 7:30 p.m., Fox Sports Florida will wrap up its three-part series on McGrady by re-airing his 62-point masterpiece against the Wizards. Earlier on Saturday, Fox Sports Florida will show McGrady’s 44-point epic against the Philadelphia 76ers from 2001 (3 p.m.) and McGrady’s first showdown against LeBron James – a 41-point effort in overtime – from Christmas Day in 2003 (5:30 p.m.). For those who missed it, McGrady’s 62-point night against Washington will air again on Sunday at 7 p.m.

Orlando limped into the 2004 game against the reeling Wizards at 18-48 – a dismal record that cost Doc Rivers his job as Magic head coach after 11 games (1-10 record) and would ultimately pave the way for McGrady’s exit following the 2003-04 season.

Very little about the game against the Wizards seemed meaningful at the start as McGrady had a first quarter with just seven points, three rebounds and an assist. From there, however, McGrady would turn the night into a memorable one with the way he dominated the guts of the game.

The 6-foot-7 guard/forward, who excelled both on drives to the rim and pull-up jump shots over defenders, scored 21 points in the second quarter and had another 24 points in the third period. He made eight of nine shots in the second period to give himself 28 points by halftime, and he buried another eight of 16 tries in the third period. By the start of the fourth quarter, McGrady already had 52 points, five rebounds and five assists while having made 19 of 31 shots, five of 14 3-point tries and nine of 14 free throws.

``My teammates told me to get 60 and then they told me to get 70,’’ McGrady said that night. ``It was a big night for me personally because it has been a long season. It’s been frustrating for me because I’m such a fierce competitor.’’

One factor that played into McGrady’s favor in being able to chase a historical scoring number was the fact that Washington was within nine points of the lead by the start of the fourth quarter. Point guard Gilbert Arenas, who would go on to play one season for the Magic in 2012, also pumped in 40 points that night on 15 of 33 shooting to keep the Wizards within striking distance.

During that 2003-04 season, McGrady played just 67 games as he battled through a myriad of injuries and the disappointment of being out of the chase for a playoff spot for the first time in his tenure with the Magic. Still, he led the NBA in scoring that season for a second time by averaging 28 points a game.

McGrady’s chance at 70 points – or even the 75 points that he often wistfully mentions – didn’t come about because he physically wore down in the fourth quarter. In that final period, McGrady made just one of six shots and missed four of his 12 free throws for 10 points in his final 10 minutes of action that night.

When McGrady hit two free throws with little more than 8 minutes remaining, he already had 55 points and the Magic record for scoring in a game. Upon the announcement of that record, an exhausted McGrady raised his right hand into the air while biting down on the collar of his white Magic jersey. A small crowd of 12,538 cheered for the superstar – a headcount number that has undoubtedly grown through the years as fans have retold the story of being there on the night when McGrady did something no other Magic player has done in franchise history.

A moment that summed up the kind of night that McGrady was having came in the fourth quarter when Washington’s Arenas grabbed the Magic star about 40 feet from the basket to prevent him from scoring on a breakaway dunk. Not to be deterred, McGrady heaved the ball from some 45 feet out and it banked off the glass and went through the rim and net.

``I saw a lot of gaps in their defense and the shots were falling for me,’’ McGrady said that night. ``When I am in that mood and frame of mind, you are pretty much at my mercy no matter what defense you throw at me.’’

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