Tracy McGrady has storybook debut… almost


mcgrady_Knick.jpgTracy McGrady looked like hadn’t lost a step despite only playing in nine games prior to tonight… well, almost.

Donnie Walsh looked like he might be sheer genius in the debut of the revamped Knicks lineup… well, almost.

And the New York Knicks beat the Oklahoma City Thunder…well, almost.

There will be plenty of time to talk about Kevin Durant’s streak of 25+ games (27 and counting), the Thunder’s incredible poise, and the significance of Sam Presti’s decision not to interfere with the chemistry of the young squad.

But we’d be remiss if we didn’t chronicle the work of McGrady tonight. The return of TMac.

The boxscore itself is not enough to appreciate what McGrady did tonight. Though the Knicks’ pace is down significantly this year from previous runs and guns, there’s still an inherent swell to the statsheet when you operate under Mike D’Antoni’s guises. So 26 points in 32 minutes, 4 rebounds, 5 assists, and a steal is impressive, but not unbelievable. It’s very possible to put that line in a quiet way under 7 Seconds or Less.

It was not a quiet line.

McGrady wasn’t the same McGrady we’ve seen the last few years. He was the McGrady we were promised by the former prodigy, attacking the basket, draining threes, making steals, handling the ball in key situations, and generally playing like a king. Or a Knickerbocker of old.

McGrady has settled for inside-the-arc jumpshots, the death of effiiciency for years, as his body wore down. But tonight he attacked the basket, drawing contact, following misses, and being hyper aggressive, rather than passively shooting whatever the defense granted him. There were a fair amount of “inefficient” shots, to be sure, the 16-23 foot jumpers that were part of what frustrated the efficiency-obsessed Rockets. But McGrady countered it with aggressiveness and creating opportunities for his teammates.

McGrady definitely seemed to tire as the game went on, his first in months, and he sat the entire overtime period when he was needed. But tonight serves as notice that even though he may not be 100%, the old Tracy McGrady, the one that drove fear into the hearts of men, still exists, and we may be seeing more of him for the rest of the season.

John Wall drops J.R. Smith with crossover, makes layup (VIDEO)

John Wall
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John Wall is one of the hardest players to guard in the NBA. J.R. Smith found that out the hard way on Tuesday night when Wall sent him flying with a behind-the-back dribble before making an easy layup.

The Wizards beat the Cavs, who are now 13-5 on the season.

Sixers to retire Moses Malone’s number next season

Darryl Dawkins, Moses Malone

Kobe Bryant‘s pregame tribute video stole the show in Philadelphia, but Tuesday night was Moses Malone tribute night. The former league MVP and Hall of Famer passed away in September, and his legacy was honored by the Sixers during a halftime ceremony. During the festivities, Malone’s son announced that his No. 2 will be retired by the organization next season.

There’s no question that Malone, one of the greatest players in the history of the sport, deserves to have his number retired. The only relevant question is: why didn’t this happen years ago? The ceremony next season should be good, but it would have been better if they had done it when Malone was alive to participate in it. No Sixers player has worn No. 2 since Malone anyway, but it’s been over 20 years since he last wore a Sixers jersey. Why couldn’t they have found some time in those two decades to have a ceremony and hang a banner?

LeBron James with two-handed halfcourt bounce pass for assist (VIDEO)

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Perhaps LeBron James‘ most underappreciated skill has been his passing. He is rightly hailed as the most unselfish superstar of his generation, but being a willing passer is only part of it: he’s also as good at it as any point guard in the league. Case in point: this two-handed halfcourt bounce pass on Tuesday night, finding Richard Jefferson for an easy dunk:

Kobe gets great introduction, loud ovation in Philadelphia

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Kobe Bryant‘s relationship with his hometown of Philadelphia had its rocky sections — the Kobe’s Lakers beat the Sixers in the 2001 Finals, and then Kobe was booed during the 2002 All-Star Game —  but all was forgiven on Tuesday night.

In his final trip to Philly, he was given a framed Lower Merion High School jersey — that’s Kobe’s school, in case you forgot — and it was presented by Dr. J.

Then the fans welcomed him like you see above.

That pumped up Kobe, who scored 13 first quarter points on 5-of-10 shooting, his best quarter of the season.