Eleven-years ago today, I witnessed one of the greatest comebacks in NBA history!
Although Tracy McGrady’s career with the Houston Rockets ended in disappointment, 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?
There are plenty of performances to choose from. Like combining for 105 points in a mid-season showdown with Dirk Nowitzki, and leading his team to the then second longest winning streak in history with 22 games in a row. However, there is one moment that stands out the most in the minds of Rockets fans.
December 9, 2004, The Rockets were facing their I-10 nemesis the 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 new season.
Down 76-68 with 35 seconds remaining the Rockets were running out of time to capture the much-needed victory. With thoughts of another embarrassing loss just seconds away, Rockets fans started to wonder was their off season trade to require the two-time scoring champion a mistake as they headed for the exit.
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 few players in league history can relate to the zone Tracy McGrady was in during the final seconds of the game.
Within a blink of an eye, Tracy McGrady erased an eight-point deficit after he scored 13 points in 35 seconds to defeat the Spurs. What was most memorable about his performance wasn’t the nearly impossible victory, but the four unbelievable 3-pointers T-Mac made.
It seemed like any shot he threw up a was going to go in. It did not matter who Gregg Popovich assigned to defend McGrady with, no one could slow T-Mac down.
One of the best plays during his run was the four-point play he scored on Tim Duncan. Even the Spurs’ best defender Bruce Bowen could not stop the sizzling shot from McGrady. After knocking down the impossible shot over Bowen, the Rockets trailed by two points with 11 seconds remaining in the fourth-quarter.
After the timeout by Popovich, everyone knew the Rockets were going to foul. All the Spurs had to do was inbound the ball and hit their upcoming free-throws. However, the unthinkable happened.
More from Space City Scoop
- Rockets: Time to return the slander towards Rachel Nichols
- What the Rockets must do with the second overall pick
- Houston Rockets: The case for, and against, trading Christian Wood
- NBA Rumors: Why the Houston Rockets shouldn’t trade up to no. 1 in NBA Draft
- 3 players that would be a perfect fit for the Houston Rockets at 23 or 24
As six seconds remained, 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 behind-the-arc and knocked down the game winning basket to give Houston an 81-80 victory. McGrady finished with 33 points, 5 steals, and 8 rebounds.
While Houston fans celebrated with their team, Brown’s face at the end (12:08) summed up the night for the Spurs. McGrady’s clutch performance instantly drew comparison to some of the greatest comeback victories in league history.
The Rockets new duo of McGrady and Yao led Houston 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 Dallas 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. Yeah, the Spurs might have had the last laugh, but no one will ever forget how McGrady dismantled them in 35 seconds.
Make sure you catch up on our entire Team Preview Series, our Houston Rockets Player Profile Series as well as our SCS Round Table Sessions to help you get through the early season. Start your morning with SCS Rocket Science Daily and visit us throughout the day to keep abreast of all your Houston Rockets news and updates.