The scoring champion the last two seasons, McGrady’s 24.8 points per game are fifth in the NBA this year. Last season he averaged 28 points as the Orlando Magic went 21-61—one more win than Houston currently has.
McGrady scored 28 points Saturday night and the Rockets turned in a strong defensive effort to post their season-high fourth straight win, a 73-67 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
“This year, I’ve hit more big shots than I’ve ever done in my career,” McGrady said. “This was a really big win for us. I think tonight just shows what type of team we can be. There are elite teams in this league and we should be one of those teams if we do what we’re supposed to do.”
In a Dec. 9 win over San Antonio, McGrady scored 13 points in the final 35 seconds as the Rockets notched the biggest last-minute comeback victory in franchise history. On Saturday, he ended San Antonio’s hopes of a comeback with a 3-pointer to put with Houston ahead 69-61 with 34.6 seconds left.
“He had one big one at the end,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “We made him shoot a lot of tough shots. He is a great player and maybe the toughest guy to cover in the league.”
McGrady and Elvin Hayes are the only players in Rockets history with three 40-point performances in a season. He joined Hayes on Jan. 9, when he poured in 45 points in a 116-98 victory over the Denver Nuggets to start Houston’s current winning streak.
This season, McGrady also has benefited from playing with a dominant big man as Yao Ming averages 18.2 points and 8.4 rebounds. The 7-foot-6 center had 13 points and eight rebounds and helped hold the Spurs to a season-low point total. Yao’s backup, Dikembe Mutombo, had a season-high 15 rebounds in 20 minutes Saturday.
While Houston shut down San Antonio, Memphis has scored at least 100 points in winning two straight.
Jason Williams had 25 points and eight assists and Pau Gasol added 22 points and eight rebounds as the Grizzlies won for the seventh time in eight games, 101-82 over the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday night. Williams shot 7-of-13 from 3-point range as Memphis set a franchise record with 13 3-pointers.
“Pau’s presence in the inside opens things up for us on the outside,” Memphis swingman James Posey said. “We try not to rely on the 3-point ball, and try to get it into Pau. If they double, we just swing the ball, and hopefully, they are falling that night.”
Generating that kind of offense Monday could be difficult as Houston is allowing less than 91 points per game. The Rockets won a pair of meetings with the Grizzlies in November, holding them to under 42 percent from the floor in each of those games. The Grizzlies are 15-7 since coach Mike Fratello took over on Dec. 2.