December 10, 2004

McGrady scores 13 points in the last 35 seconds: Rockets 66, Spurs 74 with less than a minute remaining... most of the Houston crowd had left. A couple of steals, plus four 3s by McGrady [video] in a 35 second span won the game. Other than Reggie Miller's 8 points in 9 seconds, I've never seen anything like this.

posted by dusted to basketball at 12:41 AM - 46 comments

That was pretty gross, from San Antonio's perspective (I was awaiting the start of Boston-Portland, not sure why). But given a couple of the shots McGrady hit, I don't know how they would havestopped him.

posted by yerfatma at 07:10 AM on December 10, 2004

Wasn't there just a link in another NBA thread (Bill Simmons, perhaps?) about how the Rockets were playing completely the wrong style of ball with Yao Ming in the middle? How the hell do you have him and Tracy on your team and get to the final minute of a game with less than 70 points?!? As for the individual effort, amazing. Hitting two of those four shots would have been spectacular marksmanship. Doesn't anyone pass the ball?

posted by wfrazerjr at 08:04 AM on December 10, 2004

Wow, that was amazing.

posted by emoeby at 08:05 AM on December 10, 2004

Is there a non-RealMedia version of this?

posted by grum@work at 08:16 AM on December 10, 2004

Is there a non-RealMedia version of this? Try ESPN Motion. *gnashes teeth*

posted by avogadro at 08:55 AM on December 10, 2004

How the hell do you have him and Tracy on your team and get to the final minute of a game with less than 70 points?!? From last night's box score: McGrady: 33 points. Yao: 27 points. No other Rocket had more than 5.

posted by Ufez Jones at 09:21 AM on December 10, 2004

wfrazerjr, I assume you were tongue-in-cheek when saying "Doesn't anyone pass the ball?" because at crunch time, coming back from a ten-point deficit, T-Mac should definitely NOT have passed the ball unless triple-teamed. T-Mac's problem is that he enjoys scoring way more than he does, say, defending or moving without the ball on offense. At crunch time, though, unleash him.

posted by platocave at 09:28 AM on December 10, 2004

Humanity!, if this lyon awakes I see 30 points per game. Macgrady is unstopable, teams usually have to double team him but since he moved to the Rockets he's being very quiet. "T-Mac's problem is that he enjoys scoring way more than he does." lets not forget he was the scoring champion for the 2002-2003 season, Just give T-Mac the time to ajust to this team and you will see this scoring machine in action but for now is trancision time.

posted by LROD at 10:26 AM on December 10, 2004

I've asked this question before, but I've never gotten an answer, and in light of this, I still want to know: Why play the first three quarters at all? It's all a fucking warmup, right? Even the players are listless until there's two minutes left. No lead, no matter how big, is meaningful until there's a minute left anyways. So, seriously. Why bother?

posted by chicobangs at 10:58 AM on December 10, 2004

Sorry guys I forgot to add that T-Mac won last season scoring title also, making him the Ninth man in NBA history to win back to back titles.

posted by LROD at 11:16 AM on December 10, 2004

Something tells me chico's not much for foreplay.

posted by Ufez Jones at 11:16 AM on December 10, 2004

I'm still looking for a live video of the last minute, but here's a better-quality highlight reel [12MB WMV file - right-click and save to disk]. I think it's from Rogers Canada. I have a question for the Canadian SpoFites: are the Rogers studio hosts really as brainless as they sound? Nothing they say has anything to do with what they're showing. I recommend watching on mute.

posted by dusted at 12:29 PM on December 10, 2004

The Rogers Sportsnet people have their problems, most certainly, but they don't hold a candle to the Raptors commentator team. They pee their pants every time any player on either team scores a basket, and proceed to wax poetic about how that player is the greatest human being ever to have lived. The absence of hockey is making me watch basketball every once in a while, but these idiots are convincing me otherwise.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 12:37 PM on December 10, 2004

My problem, Ufez, is that if there's going to be 47 1/2 minutes of desultory pushme-pullyou, there had bloody well better be more than 35 seconds of humpy-humpy at the end. Never have I said I'm not willing to be convinced. I definitely am. But I've asked this question three or four times in the last year on this site, and no one has tried answering it. Why bother with the first half? Why not play two 24-minute games instead of one 48-minute game? (I'm a little bunny. I can go more than once in a night. :)

posted by chicobangs at 03:20 PM on December 10, 2004

Well, it's a nearly impossible question to answer. I've tried to think of reasons *specific* to basketball, but I don't think there are many, if any, sports where the final 5-10% of the game/match aren't significantly more exciting than the other 90% (tennis, for one kind of comes to mind as an exception, but that's usually only in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-0 blowout or something - maybe golf too, but I don't really watch that). I've seen many hockey games that were 0-0 or 1-0 until the final seven minutes and then there was a flurry of goals when the players finally said "well, time to give it my all, it's do or die until the end". Same with football and soccer. If we shrunk every sport down to where the stakes were so high for so little of an amount of time, it would definitely lead to high drama, but would leave me feeling a bit unfulfilled. Your question kind of reminds me of batting around the idea of a mercy rule. Sure, if one team is up by 45 halfway through the third period, there's very little chance the other team is going to come back. But that infintesimal shot at seeing history (and T-Mac's performance is the epitome of this) is what makes the games fun. You never know what you're going to get. Plus, I just like the game. I'd sit through 8 12-minute periods if they'd play 'em. (I'm a little bunny. I can go more than once in a night. :) Duly noted.

posted by Ufez Jones at 03:55 PM on December 10, 2004

I'd sit through 8 12-minute periods if they'd play 'em. You're thinking of the WNBA.

posted by yerfatma at 04:18 PM on December 10, 2004

I'm with Ufez on this one, if you're going to drastically reduce the playing time of basketball, you might as well be playing 21 or PIG. It just wouldn't be basketball without the endurance needed to play 48 minutes for 82 games.

posted by lilnemo at 06:13 PM on December 10, 2004

I'm not talking about a mercy rule. It just seems more pronounced in the NBA. As in, there is never a game that is out of reach with 10 minutes left. In soccer, there are yellow cards and the like that may affect how the last few minutes of a game are played. In hockey, the element of pure physical exhaustion plays a much bigger role than in any other sport, period. (The NFL is more cut & dried about this stuff than most. If you're up by two touchdowns at the half, the entire second-half strategy changes for both teams.) I don't know. It just seems like the first half of every NBA game I've seen consists of uninspired play, with a couple of showtimey moves thrown in, and at the half, someone's up 5 or 10, and it doesn't matter. Only at the top of the second half is anyone even paying attention, and a 15-0 run at the top of the fourth quarter can cancel three quarters where your team didn't even show up. It's just more pronounced in the NBA than in other sports. (Ufez, I look forward to being proven wrong next week.)

posted by chicobangs at 06:46 PM on December 10, 2004

What? , I can believe this guy chicobangs what the hell is you are talking about? . Stop grouching about the rules and the players and everything else, I mean what you are saying doesnít make any sense ( two quarters ) that really shows the love you have for the sport, if you donít like it fine! But there are some of us that do, look at baseball nine innings sounds kind of long but nine innings is the rule along with all the others end of the story. So you better get this in your head FOUR QUARTERS AND NINE INNINGS anything else is not professional.

posted by LROD at 07:48 PM on December 10, 2004

LROD, you don't have to attack someone to disagree with them. If you think chico's stance is wrong, write something to convince him and everyone else that your stance is right. Also, I suggest writing your comments in Word, checking and correcting the grammar, then pasting it in the comment box. You'll convince a lot more people if you do.

posted by dusted at 08:00 PM on December 10, 2004

Keep it for yourself dusted and if you donít like it well I donít care! I love basketball and for me is a disgrace to hear people talk about the sport that way, I might be taking it to serious but thatís just me and once again you donít like it I couldnít care less.

posted by LROD at 08:13 PM on December 10, 2004

Well put, dusted. LROD, a lot of your rebuttals seem to boil down to: if you don't like it, don't read it; that's the way it is; there's no debating this; SHUT UP; etc. Not much fun. I always assume that expressing an opinion is the same thing as inviting others' opinions. If you couldn't care less about the give-and-take, why open your mouth in the first place? Also, I wonder if I'm alone in thinking your errors in grammar, usage, and mechanics seem a little too careful, sometimes. Maybe the disregard is part of the pose.

posted by Uncle Toby at 08:38 PM on December 10, 2004

LROD, I think you misunderstood chicobang's point. He's not saying the game is too long, he's saying that the players don't seem to care for the first three quarters of it.

posted by DrJohnEvans at 09:12 PM on December 10, 2004

lookout LROD. you awoke Uncle Toby! and that takes something since his last comment was a year ago. ONE YEAR AGO (freaky!). LROD you won't like this so don't read it: chill some. I'm sure you have some opinions worth sharing but your style could use some fine tuning. And I was wondering, maybe LROD is a bot. The CRTL+C, CTRL+V posting technqiue could be an algorithm and the "don't like it/don't read it" commenting strategy could be something picked up from research of online communities with grammar and spelling errors sprinkled in to make it more believable. Hmmm.

posted by gspm at 10:06 PM on December 10, 2004

Or he could be an insufferable bore. Just a guess, though.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 11:27 PM on December 10, 2004

I never claimed to love the NBA. (Aside from hockey, CFL football and maybe curling, there are very few sports I truly love.) I see why other people love it, though, and I've been asking questions to try and understand the nature of the game a little better. I was asking an innocent question that I had thought out as far as a non-basketball lover could think it out. (You think I'm hard on the NBA? Pffff. You should see the evil eye I'm giving cricket. Seriously.) LROD, if you're still reading this, I'm sorry you're taking the questions I'm asking about your favorite game so personally. It wasn't my intention to ruin your day, and I don't have David Stern on speed dial, so all this amounts to idle discussion. My favorite game is hockey. So when it comes to My Sport vs. Your Sport, I'm aware I'm living in a glass house.

posted by chicobangs at 11:37 PM on December 10, 2004

Also, baseball games weren't always nine innings. And basketball used to be played with peach baskets and no shot clock. Sometimes change isn't the worst thing in the world.

posted by chicobangs at 11:41 PM on December 10, 2004

Maybe the disregard is part of the pose. That is the heck of a thing to write, especially from someone who doesnít know me. Allow me to say something and not to you Uncle Toby, Gspm or you Dusted ďI couldnít care less what you guys think.Ē That nuisance the heck out of you guys and I know it but at the same time donít take it to heart for it is just a saying. There are a lot of sports out there, a lot of choices and options so one might think not everybody likes the same sport and that is the same as saying that everybody likes the same colors, but that does not give one the right to reprobate and say the sport is not worth watching or that it needs to change to be good or because whatever the f*** the game is boring, if is boring probably you are watching the wrong game and should move onto something else. I for one say that Basketball is a great game with a lot of integrity and of course like any other sport youíll find some players who are not fun to watch or you might think that sometimes they only care about contracts and donít give a rat ass about the game. I say the game of Basketball is bigger than that. Basketball is a great game wherever is played in parks, the streets in your backyard in a video game anywhere. The fans who understand how difficult is to be able to play this game and how demanding of your intellectual judgement, skills and physical capacity this sports is, turn to appreciate it and if you play it long enough youíll get to love it, like I do.

posted by LROD at 12:05 AM on December 11, 2004

I think that chicobangs has a fair point, and his point of view is probably shared by a lot of folks who tend to enjoy streetball style hoops rather than traditional basketball. However, if you look at basketball as more of a chess match or a marathon, then the first forty minutes are important in setting up the last eight. Good teams will pace themselves, work with the flow of the game in order to maximize points when they are able, and slow the bleeding when their offence goes south. The best teams always have a chance to take the game in the last few minutes (because they don't blow their wad prior to the end) whereas bad teams could be tied or even in the lead, but manage to make mistakes due to fatigue or not learning about the other team from the first forty. Same thing with a marathon. You can certainly just run the last 100 meters and forget the extended prologue, but it doesn't tell you who is a better marathon runner. Chess games can begin with the endgame (and there are tons of folks who like to see how grandmasters deal with set positions), but many folks see the value to the first thirty moves. I like seeing how a good basketball team manages the whole game and sets themselves up to have their best five players (not necessarily the starting five) ready to take on the other team, but that doesn't have to be your preference. Oh, and LROD, you must chill. It's nice that you like basketball so much, but criticism isn't a bad thing. Maybe you could stand to do some more reading and less typing, judging from your 2 month history.

posted by avogadro at 12:42 AM on December 11, 2004

That nuisance the heck out of you guys and I know it but at the same time donít take it to heart for it is just a saying. I suspect it is a case of English as a second language. I hope. It doesn't excuse it but it might explain it.

posted by geekyguy at 12:43 AM on December 11, 2004

I don't mean to reprobate, but -- where did I say that basketball was not worth watching? I actually like the game. It's not in my blood, but you'll have to believe me when I say I think I get it. In fact, I'm watching a game as I type this. (Portland/Utah.) It's not exactly one for ESPN Classic, but I'm not turning it off. LROD, you're taking my honest questions about the sport you love as if they're attacks against your personality. Stop throwing bombs. I don't hate basketball. (After Steve Francis, my NBA hate list is pretty short.) We're having a discussion. Put the gun down.

posted by chicobangs at 12:51 AM on December 11, 2004

Video. Mirror. [44MB AVI file] I finally found a high quality full video! It's a big file, so go easy. It shows the full sequence from about 1 minute remaining. Having watched it a few times, you can really see the Rockets loosen up while the Spurs tighten. If any one of the plays went the Spurs' way, the game would have been over. The replay of Greg Popovich's face after the last 3-pointer is priceless.

posted by dusted at 01:37 AM on December 11, 2004

That should have been Mirror.

posted by dusted at 01:49 AM on December 11, 2004

i realize it was a little helter skelter coming back up the floor on the winning shot but it looks to me like mcgrady was looking for his spot on the floor - spurs guys, you gotta beat him to that spot, foul him way out there. i dunno. hindsight is easy.

posted by gspm at 09:51 AM on December 11, 2004

chicobangs, I'm truly sorry if I in any way offended you or the others. I just hope you understand my point.

posted by LROD at 10:11 AM on December 11, 2004

avogadro, 2 month here doesn't mean month into the game. I've been fallowing the NBA since 1987.

posted by LROD at 10:18 AM on December 11, 2004

Agreed, gspm. Hindsight again, but I'd have even fouled McGrady intentionally. It slows the game down, which plays into the Rockets' hand, but it takes him out of his rhythm. He only shoots about 75% from the free throw line. The only problem with that strategy is the Spurs' free throw shooting: Duncan 67%, Ginobili 79%, Parker 68%, Nesterovic 34%, Bowen 78% (up from 56% for his career). They have better shooters on the bench, but San Antonio is a terrible free throw shooting team. Even with those terrible numbers, they made all their free throws. In most last-minute comeback attempts, as long as the leading team makes their free throws, the game is over. The combination of turnovers and three pointers just did them in.

posted by dusted at 10:20 AM on December 11, 2004

So chico, what's the sexual analogy for ice hockey? (Apart from not being able to see the little puck thingie...)

posted by liam at 11:08 AM on December 11, 2004

avogadro, 2 month here doesn't mean month into the game. I've been fallowing the NBA since 1987. Understood, though that wasn't what I meant. There are some norms here, which are important to follow to order to be a Good Citizen. But I am glad you made up all peaceful like with chico. Good on you, LROD.

posted by avogadro at 11:33 AM on December 11, 2004

Liam, sex in hockey? You serious? Well, the point of the game is to get the rubber in. Tshah. But there's nuance, strategy, being incredibly receptive and able to adapt to the openings your counterpart provides you with absolute blade-point precision, the reward of superhuman stamina, pacing yourself so you're going just as strong at the end of the session as at the beginning, the ebb and flow of two equals going at it with furious. Unbridled. Passion. Cool steel. Long, hard shafts of wood wielded with a surgeon's tender touch. The glory of permissive and emphatic physical contact. Hot players melting ice with their lightning movements. Scuse me, I seem to be getting the vapors. (fans self, takes a generous sip off his mint julep)

posted by chicobangs at 12:14 PM on December 11, 2004

(Ufez, I look forward to being proven wrong next week.) I did mention that it's the Hawks in town right? That may actually be a game where, with 10 minutes left, Shawn Bradley sees the most minutes he'll get this year ;).

posted by Ufez Jones at 01:25 PM on December 11, 2004

Upon further review, LROD, my comment was a bit out of line. My apologies, as that was something I can't imagine saying in person, where the rudeness would have been prohibitively obvious. You're right that a lifetime's acquaintance with a sport is helpful in seeing what's meaningful in long stretches where not much apparently happens. That's undoubtedly my problem with watching soccer--I can't see the significance of what seems to be failure after failure. But that's for me, not the sport, to fix. However, that kind of acquaintance can sometimes blind us to the evolution of a sport. Things have changed over time, and we don't always recognize the differences between the games we used to watch and the games we watch today. A step back from men's tennis, for instance, helped show me why some casual fans find today's style boring and repetitious. [Uncle Toby's] last comment was a year ago. ONE YEAR AGO (freaky!) Not planned, just a long time lurking after an initial spell of commenting.

posted by Uncle Toby at 01:29 PM on December 11, 2004

Let me just say that I am in China and have watched this about four times a day for the last week. The students love it. Thanks for the video, guys.

posted by geekyguy at 05:25 AM on December 16, 2004

China? Okay, now I have a question -- how big is the NBA there? I know in Houston, there was a huge burst of interest when Yao Ming signed with the Rockets.

posted by wfrazerjr at 11:51 AM on December 16, 2004

Wow, China! What kind of teaching are you doing, geekyguy? I'm curious: is McGrady getting bigger exposure there now that he's paired with Yao?

posted by dusted at 07:52 PM on December 16, 2004

The NBA is huge over here. All of the sttudents love it and I've been grabbing torrents of the NBA highlights for them. McGrady is definitely getting more exposure and they all know Stevie Francis. Without a doubt football, (soccer), is the biggest sport but NBA basketball is very close. The NBA marketing machine is doing a great job in this market. A friend in the States sent me a copy of Slam magazine and it was like porn for these kids. I teach at a middle school which would be a high school in America. Primarily sophmores and juniors or Senior I and Senior II as they are called here. The people are wonderful, kind and gracious. The food in Sichuan is awesome. Still, I miss cheese. You can check out my blog for more details, I promise to update it soon. Anyone interested can also drop me an email, it is in my profile.

posted by geekyguy at 01:29 AM on December 19, 2004

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