14-years ago today, the world witnessed one of the greatest comeback performances in NBA history, featuring Tracy McGrady’s 13 points in 33 seconds in a win for the Houston Rockets.
Tracy McGrady’s career with the Houston Rockets ended in disappointment, but no one can deny the memories he left in Clutch City over his six-year tenure. Which brings up a very good question, what is T-Mac’s greatest moment as a Rocket? And there are plenty to choose from.
Remember the mid-season showdown where McGrady and Dirk Nowitzki combined for 105 points? What about leading the Rockets to the then second-longest winning streak in history with 22 games in a row? From the dunk on Shawn Bradley to his memorable playoff performances, there is one moment that stands out the most.
December 9, 2004, The Rockets were facing their I-10 nemesis San Antonio Spurs in Houston. At the time, the Rockets were in a rut having won only six of their first 17 games of the season.
Down 76-68 with 35 seconds remaining, the Rockets were running out of time to capture a much-needed victory. With thoughts of another embarrassing loss just seconds away, fans started to wonder if their offseason acquisition to acquire the two-time scoring champion was a mistake.
And then it happened. Although it seemed like an impossible task, no one would have thought the Rockets had any chance of coming back. Only a few players in league history can relate to the zone McGrady was in during the final seconds of the game.
Within a blink of an eye, McGrady erased an eight-point deficit as he scored 13 points in 33 seconds to defeat the Spurs. What was most memorable about his performance wasn’t the nearly impossible victory, but the four unbelievable plays he made.
At that moment, every shot McGrady threw up went in. It did not matter who Gregg Popovich assigned to defend McGrady, no one could slow down the seven-time all-star.
One of the best plays during his run was the four-point play he scored on Tim Duncan. In the next possession, not even Bruce Bowen, the Spurs best defender, could stop the bleeding as McGrady knocked down another tough shot to pull Houston within two.
With 11 seconds remaining, everyone knew the Rockets were going to foul following a timeout by Popovich. Despite McGrady’s will to bring the Rockets back, the Spurs could have sealed a win by hitting one of their upcoming free-throws.
Unfortunately for the Spurs, the unthinkable happened. After Brent Barry inbound the ball to teammate Devin Brown, Brown slipped as the ball fell right into the hands of McGrady.
With six seconds remaining, McGrady raced down the court knowing the only thing that could ruin his magical performance was the clock. With no timeouts left, McGrady pulled up far from behind-the-arc and knocked down the game-winning basket; to give Houston an 81-80 victory over the Spurs. In the win, T-Mac ended the game with 33 points, eight rebounds, and five steals.
Houston’s new duo of T-Mac and Yao led the Rockets to their second straight playoff appearance in the post-Hakeem Olajuwon era, with a 51-31 record. Unfortunately, they would be eliminated in the first round in seven games by the Mavericks.
As for the Spurs, they finished with the second best record in the West, and later that summer took home their third NBA title in franchise history. The Spurs might have had the last laugh, but no one will ever forget how McGrady dismantled San Antonio in 33 seconds.
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