By Ryan McNeill
Tracy McGrady turned back the clock on Friday night against Toronto with a season-high 22 points, five assists and four rebounds that reminded fans of his glory days playing for Orlando and Houston.
Not bad for a player who only cracked double-figures in scoring three times during the teams first 25 games of the season.
After the game McGrady insisted to the media he wasn’t fuelled by the fans booing him in his old stomping grounds or the fact he’s finally feeling healthy.
It wasn’t even the fact he played more than 30 minutes for the seventh time in his past eight games.
Instead, what has lead to this sudden turnaround is the fact he has had the ball in his hands a lot because he was running the point.
“I’m a rhythm player,” McGrady admitted to HOOPSADDICT.com after the game. “Just having the ball out on the basketball court helps me find that rhythm. I feel that I’m a great decision maker so I feel the ball should be in my hands to make plays for my teammates and make them better. That’s what I thrive off of – making my teammates better. There is no greater feeling than that and having the ball in my hands has given confidence to me and my teammates.”
Sure, his team-high 17 field goals might have helped his confidence, but he also dished out a team-high five assists.
The other player in Detroit’s backcourt, Rodney Stuckey, had a solid game as well as he scored 19 points while only attempting nine field goals.
Greg Monroe continued his strong play of late going 6-9 from the field for 12 points while Charlie Villanueva provided a scoring spark off the bench with 16 points on only 11 field goal attempts.
Clearly McGrady’s teammates got a bit of a spark playing alongside him tonight even if it only resulted in five assists.
After the game a reporter asked how Pistons head coach John Kuester how Monroe has benefitted from McGrady running the point and he was quick to boast that most of the team has benefitted.
“There is no question Greg (Monroe) has from Tracy (McGrady’s) ability to get the ball to him at the right spot at the right time, but Tracy has been able to do that with a lot of guys on this team,” Kuester boasted to the media.
Even though McGrady is known as the flashy All-Star who has averaged 20.9 points over his career, prior to his recent round of knee injuries he was a well-rounded player that has averaged 5.9 rebounds and 4.9 assists over his career.
Watching him play tonight it was clear McGrady learned a thing or two while watching games from the bench the past few seasons. Even though his body isn’t able to do the same things as it could during his early-20′s he was still able to post stats that are close to his career averages.
Turns out the wily vet learned a thing or two while sitting on the bench the past few seasons.
“I’m starting to feel a lot better physically and after being out for so long I think I’ve gotten a little smarter on the basketball court just from seeing the game from afar,” McGrady admitted to the media after the win.
I guess you can teach an old dog new tricks.