CLEVELAND (AP)—Tracy McGrady stopped himself. The Cavaliers certainly couldn’t contain him.
Rookie LeBron James scored 16 points in his first game back from a sprained ankle, and Carlos Boozer had 23 points and 16 rebounds to help Cleveland withstand McGrady’s shooting barrage for a 99-98 victory over the Orlando Magic on Monday night.
McGrady tied an NBA record with eight 3-pointers in the first half, but Orlando’s star guard played just five minutes after halftime because of a toe injury.
“There was no way to stop him,” Cavs coach Paul Silas said.
McGrady decided not to risk hurting his toe worse, and benched himself with 6:32 left in the third quarter.
“I know myself,” said McGrady, who scored 34 of his 36 points in the first half. “I made the decision myself. It’s pretty disappointing. First, you have the LeBron-T.Mac matchup everyone is hyped to see. It was frustrating.”
But although they didn’t have McGrady, the Magic stayed with Cleveland in the second half and still had a chance to win it after Cavs forward Eric Williams missed two free throws with 7.5 seconds left.
But Rod Strickland shot an airball just before the horn sounded.
The Cavaliers, who went 2-1 while James was out with the injury, have won four of five and now have 16 victories—just one less than they had all last season.
“This win shows how much we have grown up this season,” said Boozer, selected the Eastern Conference’s Player of the Week on Monday. “The maturity is amazing.”
James, who missed three games with his injury, added five rebounds and three assists in 30 minutes. But he sat the final 4:51 after forcing a couple shots. He didn’t decide to play until just before tipoff.
“I thought I could make an impact by coming back,” James said. “I didn’t want to chance it and come back too soon. But I was confident I could play.”
McGrady made eight 3-pointers in the first 24 minutes, tying an NBA record for the most 3s in a half. He didn’t miss from beyond the arc until he misfired just before the halftime buzzer.
However, he limped off the court midway through the third when he appeared to aggravate an injury that has been bothering him since a Jan. 21 game in Milwaukee.
“Somehow, some way, my foot got stubbed,” McGrady said. “It hurt. I felt I couldn’t go anymore.”
Before he left, Orlando’s shooting star dropped shot after shot—and jaws.
“He put on a show,” said Boozer, one of four Cavaliers who tried to slow McGrady. “We tried everything. Everything! It didn’t matter. It was an incredible performance.”
Strickland’s basket with 4:15 left put Orlando up 92-89, but Wagner stole the ball from him and Kevin Ollie fed Boozer for a dunk as the Cavs took a 93-92 lead with 3:28 left.
Howard’s two free throws put the Magic back on top, but Eric Williams dropped a floater in the lane and sank two free throws before the Cavs survived a frantic final minute when both teams missed chances.
Magic G Keith Bogans sat out with a bruised right quadriceps. … The Cavaliers rested forward Tony Battie, who has a sore knee. … Boozer averaged 20.7 points, 15.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists per game last week. He was surprised at being named the East’s top player—his teammates expected it. “C’mon, Booze,” forward Ira Newble shouted across the locker room. “You got 32 (points) and 20 (rebounds) one night. Ain’t too many people doing that.” … Orlando F Drew Gooden didn’t play in the second half because of a hip flexor. … Boozer will attend his grandmother’s funeral in Washington D.C. on Wednesday and is scheduled to get back to Cleveland about the time the Cavs tip-off with Miami. … Hall of Famer Eddie Murray, former Indians manager MikeHargrove and Cleveland pitcher C.C. Sabathia attended the game.