Tracy McGrady Scores 26 Point in Knicks Debut
Tracy McGrady‘s dazzling Knicks debut couldn’t stop the surging Oklahoma City Thunder, who got 36 points from Kevin Durant and beat New York 121-118 in overtime Saturday night for their eighth straight victory.Durant made the go-ahead jumper with 16 seconds left in his 27th consecutive game with at least 25 points, the longest streak since Allen Iverson also did it in 27 in a row from Jan. 12-March 9, 2001. The last longer streak was by Michael Jordan in 40 straight in the 1986-87 season.
McGrady scored 26 points in his first game since the Knicks acquired him Thursday at the trade deadline. But he was on the bench for almost all of overtime, perhaps exhausted after playing 32 minutes in his first action since December.Russell Westbrook finished with 31 points, 10 assists and nine rebounds in the longest winning streak for the Thunder franchise since a nine-game run early in the 2004-05 season. Jeff Green had 16 points and 11 rebounds.David Lee had 30 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who blew a six-point lead late in regulation and lost their sixth straight. Eddie House, also acquired at the trade deadline, scored a season-high 24 points.McGrady had his first 25-point game since Jan. 9, 2009, when he had 26 for Houston at Oklahoma City, about a month before season-ending microfracture surgery. But his chance for a winning return to action in just his seventh game this season was wrecked by Durant, the sensational swingman who was often compared to McGrady when he came into the NBA three years ago.McGrady was sitting and the Knicks trailed by five with about 8 minutes remaining when a loud “We want T-Mac!” chant broke out. He returned about 1 1/2 minutes later and helped the Knicks build a six-point lead, but he missed two costly free throws with 1:05 left.A 3-pointer by Green and a layup by Westbrook cut it to 103-102 with 26 seconds to play. House made two free throws, but Durant buried a 3 to knot it at 105 with 6 seconds remaining. Danilo Gallinari was short on a potential winning 3 to force overtime.New York had its final lead of the extra period after House’s jumper with 30 seconds left before Durant’s jumper made it 119-118. Wilson Chandler was short on a drive, Durant sank two free throws, and House and Gallinari were short on 3-pointers that could have forced another OT.The Knicks acquired McGrady on Thursday in a three-team deal with Houston and Sacramento. House came in a trade that sent popular backup Nate Robinson to Boston.Though the primary benefit of the three-team trade was salary cap positioning for the summer, the Knicks are anxious to see what McGrady has left in the final 29 games and if he’s an option for next season — especially if he was serious Friday when he said he would be willing to take a significant pay cut from this season’s $22.5 million salary if the Knicks can sign a couple of marquee free agents from a class that could be led by LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.There was a buzz at Madison Square Garden that’s largely been missing after the All-Star break in recent years. McGrady was loudly cheered as the last player introduced during starting lineups, and the crowd roared again when he touched the ball on New York’s first possession.McGrady motioned to coach Mike D’Antoni that he was ready for a sub about midway through the first quarter, then returned late in the period for a strong finish. He banked in jumper — perhaps mistakenly, judging by the sheepish look on his face — then grabbed the rebound on the next defensive end and threw a long bounce pass in transition to a streaking Al Harrington for a layup and a nine-point lead.McGrady scored 10 points in the period, matching his season high, and the Knicks led 31-25. Oklahoma City erased New York’s 11-point lead to tie it at 52 on Westbrook’s layup with 53 seconds left in the half, but McGrady made a 3-pointer and long jumper on the Knicks’ final two possessions for a 57-52 lead.James Harden‘s free throws with 7.3 seconds left gave Oklahoma City an 82-80 edge heading to the final period.