New Guys Have Blast In Debut
Drew Gooden And Gordan Giricek Combined For 37 Points Vs. Chicago.
February 22, 2003 | By Ryan Clark, Sentinel Staff Writer Tracy McGrady ended his silent treatment Friday night.
In the huddle just before the Magic took the floor against Chicago, McGrady spoke to new teammates Drew Gooden and Gordan Giricek for the first time.
“He told us to just go out and play and to not worry about anything,” Gooden said after the Magic’s 110-96 win. “It really helped me out and gave me confidence.”
In what proved to be an impressive debut for the duo, both started and both finished with double-figure point totals.
Call Giricek and Gooden the Magic’s G-Men. Gooden finished with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Giricek scored 15 and added three assists.
After Tracy McGrady’s 52-point performance, Gooden and Giricek were two of only four Magic players to score in double figures. Darrell Armstrong scored 11.
“For Gordan and Drew to come in and play that well was a huge lift,” Coach Doc Rivers said. “I’m just gonna shut up and get out of the way.”
Rivers praised Giricek for his defense and ball handling, Gooden for his post moves. The coach said that he will continue to use a simpler version of his offense for the newcomers so they can adapt to a new system.
“We’re playing NBA 101 right now,” Rivers said. “Just the simple stuff. Picks and rolls, things like that.” McGrady said it proved to him the trade for Mike Miller was worthwhile.
“Those two guys can play, and I respect that,” McGrady said. “They’re important for the team and they’re important to me because they can open up a lot of stuff for me.”
The players were well received by the Magic faithful.
“The crowd was just amazing,” Gooden said. “Incredible. We fed off them all night.”
Giricek said he’d seen McGrady play in Europe, and while he was with the Grizzlies.
“I will say that it’s much more fun to play with him than against him,” he said. “When I saw the team, and the players here in Orlando, I knew this team would be good for me. My family told me the same thing.”
Gooden said he’s glad to be with this team, and its now-talkative star.
“I knew I would produce here,” he said. “When you’re on a team with Tracy McGrady, it’s just amazing. There were so many times I just wanted to go up and slap him five. It was great.”