ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Orlando's Tracy McGrady believed there was
no stopping him.
"I felt like if I pulled up from halfcourt, I was going to make
it,'' said McGrady, who scored 43 points -- the ninth time this
season he's surpassed 40 -- as the Magic defeated the Denver Nuggets
111-98 on Sunday night.
McGrady dominated the first half, outscoring Denver by himself,
37-32. He cooled a little in the third before sitting out the
"It didn't matter who they were going to put on me, they were
at my mercy because I was in a rhythm all night,'' McGrady said.
"And once I get into that rhythm, I feel like nobody can stop me
and that was the case tonight.''
McGrady headed to the bench for good late in the third quarter
after connecting on 13-of-24 shots and 11-of-14 free throws.
McGrady hurt Denver with a combination of penetrating drives and
long-range jumpers, hitting 6-of-12 3-pointers.
"There was pretty much nothing you could do because we were
playing good defense and there were times he was shooting two feet
from the 3-point line and making them,'' Denver's Marcus Camby
said. "There was pretty much nothing you could do but tip your hat
to the guy for making shots like that.''
Magic coach Doc Rivers has watched several opponents this season
fail to slow McGrady when he gets on such a roll.
"The worst thing in the world even for a great defender is when
a great player gets it going,'' Rivers said. "There's not a lot of
defenses that's been made to stop that around the league
historically and he was having one of those nights.''
Orlando won for the eighth time in the past 10 games and
defeated Denver for the 12th consecutive time.
The Nuggets headed into the final period trailing, 88-63, and
closed to the final margin against Orlando's reserves while McGrady
cheered from the sidelines.
McGrady's first-half performance was record-setting.
He hit 12-of-17 shots, including 6-of-9 from 3-point range, for
37 of Orlando's first-half 63 points. He set a Magic franchise
record for most points in a half, breaking the record of 34 set by
Shaquille O'Neal on April 20, 1994. McGrady's 25 points in the
second quarter also eclipsed the team mark for most points in a
quarter. Brooks Thompson set the old mark when he scored 21 points
in a quarter on March 19, 1996.
McGrady cooled considerably in the third, registering his first
point at 6:34 when he hit one of two free throws to extend
Orlando's lead to 75-43. He shot 1-of-7 from the field and exited
the game with 1:48 left in the quarter.
"We've seen this performance against us before,'' Denver coach
Jeff Bzdelik said. "Our perimeter defense at times can be very
soft with starting two very young players at that position. They
have to understand the importance of defense against great players.
We simply allowed Tracy to raise uncontested shots and be very
comfortable where he received the basketball. He did whatever he
wanted to do.''
Giricek's 3-pointer snapped a 6-6 tie at 7:17 in the first
quarter and put Orlando in the lead for good. The Magic led by as
many as nine in the quarter and extended their halftime lead to 31
after shooting 11-for-21 in the second quarter.
Orlando outscored Denver, 37-14, in the period as the Nuggets
committed seven turnovers and shot 5-of-15 from the field. McGrady
hit four 3-pointers in the second and was 7-for-8 from the line.
The Magic improved to 13-2 in against the Nuggets in
Orlando. ... Denver has not defeated Orlando since March 12, 1996.
... Denver went scoreless in the second quarter for a stretch of
4:15. ... Denver missed 8-of-10 3-point attempts. ... The Nuggets
set a team-low record for a Magic opponent this season by shooting
46.2 percent (12-26) at the free throw line.