McGrady suffers early back injury as Magic fall 106-92Posted: Friday March 22, 2002 8:44 PM
Updated: Saturday March 23, 2002 11:31 AM
McGrady was carted off on a stretcher after going down with severe back spasms early in Orlando's 106-92 loss to the Charlotte Hornets on Friday night.
McGrady was released from the hospital Saturday morning and a Magic spokesman said he could play as early as Sunday in Milwaukee.
Minus McGrady, Orlando will be without 25.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game. Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers is the NBA's only other player averaging at least 25 points, five rebounds and five assists.
"Anybody in here who can help?" head coach Doc Rivers asked the press corps following the loss, the Magic's first in seven games. "Tryouts are [Saturday]."
Despite the loss, the Magic remained in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, a half-game ahead of Milwaukee.
"We can't back down now," said Troy Hudson, who led the Magic with 23 points. "We've come too far, we're in a nice position and we have to keep it."
McGrady was injured in the second quarter after being sandwiched by Charlotte's Robert Traylor and George Lynch on a drive. He didn't move for several minutes, and emergency medical personnel gingerly lifted him into a stretcher and wheeled him off the court.
"I really don't know how he is," Rivers said. "I don't think he'll be back [Saturday], and we won't have him for Sunday [in Milwaukee]. After that, he'll probably be day-to-day."
McGrady's injury left the Magic without their top three scorers. Grant Hill (16.8 points per game) has been out since late November following surgery on his troublesome left ankle, and Mike Miller (15.8 ppg) hasn't played since he sprained an ankle on March 8.
"We've had guys [step up] all year, so it's not enough for the guys who have stepped up already," Pat Garrity said. "Now it's time to ask, 'What more do you got?'"
McGrady had missed four games this season -- three with a lower back strain and one with a sore right foot -- and Orlando lost three.
"The team is talking about winning and making the playoffs," Charlotte coach Paul Silas said. "Everyone's really focused on that now. We really want to make a push at the playoffs because once we get in, anything's possible."
After McGrady went out with Charlotte ahead by seven points, the Magic's emotional hustle kept the game close.
Orlando eventually forged ahead 56-53 early in the third quarter. Darrell Armstrong, playing with reckless abandon, had 10 of his 22 points in the period.
"They played really hard after [McGrady] went down," Silas said. "You never can take a team for granted when their main star goes down."
But the Hornets soon put the game away with 15 unanswered points in a 3:32 span. Wesley and Baron Davis each had five points, including back-to-back 3-pointers, as Charlotte took a 73-62 lead with 2:32 left in the period. From there, Orlando could never cut the deficit to less than seven points.
Davis finished with 15 points and 13 assists.
Charlotte center Elden Campbell pulled his right hamstring in the first quarter and did not return. He was scoreless with four rebounds in eight minutes.
Notes: Charlotte's P.J. Brown had 14 points and 14 rebounds for his second double-double in three games and fifth of the season .... The Hornets committed 15 turnovers, one more then they had in their previous two games. ... Earlier Friday, the Magic signed guard Dee Brown to a second 10-day contract. Brown was talked out of retirement to help the Magic fill a perimeter shooting need created by Miller's injury.