During his tenure with the Orlando Magic, Tracy McGrady evolved into one of the premier scorers in the NBA.
In 2004, McGrady famously scored 62 points in a win over the Washington Wizards. His first 50-point game however, also came against the Wizards and on this day 20 years ago.
McGrady tallied 50 points and he needed all of them. That included the winning points as the Magic topped Washington, 99-96.
Early on, it looked as though Orlando may cruise past the Wizards at the TD Waterhouse Centre on March 8, 2002. The Magic led by as many as 15 points in the second half, but with less than two minutes to play, they were on the short end of a 95-94 score.
McGrady however, would not let the Magic lose.
With 1:10 remaining, McGrady put the Magic back in front with a 14-foot jumper. Washington drew even after Courtney Alexander split a pair of free throws. With the score tied 96-96 and 33 seconds left, McGrady would not be denied.
On the game’s decisive possession, McGrady found himself matched up with Alexander. McGrady was able to drive to his right before hanging in the air and burying an eight-foot leaner with just 13 seconds to go.
That go-ahead basket would give McGrady 49 points for the night. After Tyronn Lue missed the game-tying shot on the other end, McGrady split a pair of free throws with 0.8 seconds left to cap a 50-point night. Chris Whitney’s desperation trey as time expired was no good for Washington.
For the evening, McGrady shot 18-for-29 from the field and 4-for-7 from deep. He also carried the Magic down the stretch, scoring their final seven points and 15 of their last 17. McGrady was the team’s top rebounder as well with 10. Darrell Armstrong and Monty Williams each scored 10 points in the win.
Richard Hamilton led six Wizards in double figures with 26 points. Lue and Alexander each tallied 13 points in the loss. Christian Laettner added 12 points and a game-high 11 rebounds for Washington.
Throughout the course of his Hall of Fame career, McGrady would hit the 50-point mark four times. The first of those occasions included clutch points down the stretch on this day two decades ago.