<
>

McGrady: 41 points, 8 rebounds, 11 assists

12/25/2003

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) -- Tracy McGrady got the best of LeBron James
this time. He's not making any promises about the future.

"He's unbelievable," McGrady said Thursday.

"He's not 18. Can't possibly be. If he continues to work hard
and stay hungry, it can be ugly. It's scary how good he can be. You
just look at him, man. The poise that he has out on the basketball
court. The confidence. He has that swagger."

So does McGrady, whose 41-point performance overshadowed James'
34 points in the Orlando Magic's 113-101 overtime victory over the
Cleveland Cavaliers.

The three-time All-Star, who's only 24 himself, conceded that he
drew extra motivation from the first meeting between two of the
NBA's brightest young stars.

"Absolutely. It's Christmas. I would like to be home with my
family. But it's my job to come out and perform. And when you have
a guy like LeBron coming into town with all the hype around him,
everybody's going to be tuned in and want to see the outcome,"
McGrady said. "You have no choice but to get yourself ready to
play."

James matched last season's league scoring champion point for
point for most of the afternoon. The rookie phenom made 13 of 28
shots, but was just 4-of-10 from behind the 3-point line and missed
all four of his shots in overtime.

"I play the same way every game. It doesn't matter who I play
against or what team we are playing against. I just try and help my
team win," James said, noting that he and McGrady play different
positions and rarely found themselves matched one-on-one.

"He is an All-Star. He is a future Hall of Famer. Guys like
him, you cannot stop. You can only hope to contain him."

Juwan Howard scored Orlando's first eight points in the extra
period, then McGrady made a pair of 3-pointers to finish with his
second 40-plus game of the season. He also had eight rebounds and
11 assists.

"Tracy's a big-time player, there's no question, as is LeBron
James," Magic coach Johnny Davis said. "But T-Mac's focus is not
on any one-on-one contest between him and LeBron or him and anyone
else. He understands that it's about our team and what he does for
our team in terms of making us better."

Howard scored 19 points and Drew Gooden had 12 for Orlando,
which has won seven of 10 since ending a 19-game losing streak.

Carlos Boozer had 18 points and 18 rebounds for the Cavs, who
had their first three-game winning in two seasons snapped. Reserve
Eric Williams contributed 18 points and seven rebounds, taking up
some of the scoring slack when James' shots stopped falling late in
the game.

The game drew the first sellout crowd to the T.D. Waterhouse
Centre since James made his pro debut here in July. It also kicked
off a nationally televised tripleheader featuring some of the
league's highest-profile personalities and teams.

James has the NBA's top-selling jersey, as well as a signature
sneaker released just in time for Christmas, and McGrady's No. 1 is
third on the jersey list behind Denver rookie Carmelo Anthony.

McGrady, coming off a subpar shooting night in a 22-point loss
at Philadelphia on Monday night, made his first three, including
uncontested dunks on consecutive possessions that set the tone for
a high-scoring first half.

James was even better during a 14-point first quarter, making
his first four shots and five of seven in the period.

A six-minute stretch on the bench didn't cool the 18-year-old
star. He made his first two shots after the rest -- both 3-pointers
-- and finished the first half with 20 points on 7-for-9 shooting,
including 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

McGrady was 8-of-14 for 19 points at the break, and the Magic
got 17 from their reserves to offset Cleveland's 61 percent
shooting and take a 60-58 lead.

Orlando led 95-86 with 6:36 remaining in regulation, then missed
12 of 13 shots down the stretch, including its last six. The Cavs
tied it at 97 on Boozer's rebound of a James' miss with 46.9
seconds left.

Game notes
With the Magic unveiling black pinstripe retro jerseys from
the inaugural 1989-90 season, the Cavs wore their home whites. ...
McGrady also made the jump to the NBA directly from high school.
His first-season statistics with Toronto (7 points, 4.2 rebounds,
1.5 assists, 18.4 minutes per game) pale in comparison to what
James was on track for through his first 28 games (19.3 points, 6
rebounds, 6 assists, 40.3 minutes). ... James finished with six
assists, two rebounds and eight turnovers.