McGrady scored 37 points -- two on a spectacular two-handed dunk
-- and helped the Magic snap a four-game losing streak with an 88-82
victory over the injury-riddled Toronto Raptors.
Coupled with Washington's 87-83 loss to Boston, Orlando can
clinch a playoff berth with one more victory or if the Wizards lose
McGrady was 11-of-18, including 4-of-7 from 3-point range, and
was 11-of-16 at the free throw line. He surpassed 30 points for the
49th time this season, but the most memorable basket came off a
third-quarter slam dunk.
Magic coach Doc Rivers likened it to something from "Nerf
Following a steal by Steven Hunter, McGrady dribbled the length
of the court, flipped the ball underhanded off the backboard,
caught the carom in midair and performed a two-handed jam.
It was reminiscent of his dunk in the 2002 All-Star game and
brought the crowd to its feet, filling the arena with chants of
"I told (Chris Whitney) I was going to throw it off the glass
and I don't think he believed me," McGrady said. "And sure
enough, the next possession, I got the opportunity to do it.
"It was a little dead in the TD Waterhouse (Centre) tonight, so
I had to liven things up."
The Raptors weren't so impressed.
"There's a time for a hard foul and there's a time where you
shouldn't," coach Lenny Wilkens said. "I could see the play
coming and if you do that, then I'm going to make sure that you
don't get it back by putting my body right on you so you can't get
to the basket. I'm not saying you do anything to hurt anybody but
you don't want someone to embarrass you either."
Regardless, Rivers was pleased to have moved a step closer to
the playoffs so he can rest McGrady, who missed practice time this
week with a strained rib muscle. Pat Garrity also has been slowed
with a pulled groin, and Drew Gooden sat out with a sprained big
toe and tendinitis in a knee.
"I just know that if we're not healthy going into the playoffs,
we're not going to upset anyone," said Rivers, whose team
currently holds the No. 7 playoff seed. "It's bad enough they've
changed it to a seven-game series this year. We were hoping they'd
wait until next year. But the fact that they have, we have to make
sure we're healthy going in."
It appeared McGrady would rest during the fourth quarter, but
Toronto rallied after heading into the period trailing by 21.
McGrady entered the game at the 6:16 mark but scored only two
points as the Magic were outscored 24-9 in the quarter. A 3-pointer
by Toronto's Chris Jefferies cut the lead to 88-82 with 1:01
Jacque Vaughn turned the ball over on Orlando's next possession,
but the Raptors missed two 3-point attempts in the final 27
Toronto shot 36.8 percent from the field and missed 12 of 33
free-throw attempts. The Raptors also committed 20 turnovers the
Magic converted to 24 points.
Orlando got 14 points from Gordan Giricek, the only other Magic
player to reach double figures. Giricek opened the game with an
18-foot jumper, and Orlando stayed in the lead the rest of the way.
Orlando started the third quarter hitting eight consecutive
shots, including four 3-pointers, to take a 71-45 lead. Meanwhile,
Toronto struggled, missing 10 of its first 11 shots.
McGrady finished with 16 points in the quarter, hitting all five
shots. Orlando outscored Toronto 30-15 in the third. The Raptors
were 5-for-19 from the field and committed eight turnovers.
Orlando and Toronto split this year's four-game series. ...
Hunter made his first start of the season, scoring eight points and
blocking four shots. It was Orlando's 20th different starting
lineup this season. ... Gooden has missed six games since coming to
the Magic in a trade Feb. 19. ... Toronto dressed nine players with
Vince Carter (ankle sprain), Antonio Davis (strained groin),
Lindsey Hunter (sore back) and Voshon Lenard (sore knee)
unavailable to play. ... Giricek had a season-high four steals.