For all of his accolades, the knock on Tracy McGrady was that he was never able to get his Orlando Magic teams out of the first round of the NBA Playoffs.
McGrady led the Magic to the playoffs in each of his first three seasons in Orlando. The lone elimination game he won however, came on this day 20 years ago.
Down two games to none to the No. 2 seed Milwaukee Bucks, the Magic returned home for Game 3 on April 28, 2001. The seventh-seeded Magic used 42 points from McGrady to edge Milwaukee in overtime to avoid the sweep, 121-116.
McGrady had just 11 points in the first half, but exploded with 27 over the third and fourth quarters. Orlando had trailed by six at halftime, but behind McGrady’s efforts, rallied to take a 14-point lead with less than five minutes remaining in regulation.
A Milwaukee team that featured Ray Allen, Sam Cassell and Glenn Robinson however, would not go quietly. That trio combined for 15 points during a 21-6 run. With 15.7 seconds remaining, Robinson’s jumper gave the Bucks their first lead since the midway point of the third quarter, 108-107.
McGrady, at that point, had 35 points. The Bucks knew he would get the ball. Stopping him however, was a different story.
Guarded by Darvin Ham, McGrady took the inbounds pass and went to his left. McGrady was able to draw contact from Ham while converting the layup off glass with his left hand with nine seconds remaining. McGrady converted the free throw to put Orlando up 110-108, but Milwaukee again had an answer.
Allen’s dunk on the other end tied the game at 110. After Mike Miller’s desperation heave was no good, the contest went to overtime.
Milwaukee led twice in the extra period, but the Orlando role players made their shots. After a three-pointer from Dee Brown and a jumper from Pat Garrity put the Magic in front, McGrady led the effort to put the Bucks away.
McGrady was able to get the rim for back-to-back buckets to push the Magic lead to five. Allen answered with a short shot on the other end to make it a three-point game, but the Bucks would not score again. Darrell Armstrong sealed the win with a pair of free throws with 1.4 seconds remaining.
In addition to McGrady’s 42-point night, Armstrong tallied 18 points for Orlando. Garrity and Brown added 16 and 12 points, respectively, off the Magic bench.
Allen led Milwaukee with 27 points while Cassell added 21 and a game-high 16 rebounds. Tim Thomas and Robinson finished with 18 and 14 points, respectively, in the loss.
McGrady was an All-Star in each of his four seasons with the Orlando Magic and emerged as one of the NBA’s best scorers. The knock on McGrady during his time with the Magic however, was his inability to get Orlando past the first round of the playoffs.
During his tenure with the Magic, Orlando won just one postseason elimination game. It came on this day two decades ago.