Rockets guard Tracy McGrady made his season debut Tuesday night against the Detroit Pistons. McGrady entered the game to a standing ovation with 7:44 left in the first quarter. He played eight minutes and scored three points in the first half. McGrady is not expected to play in the second half.
Rockets coach Rick Adelman changed his mind and decided to use Trevor Ariza’s absence while serving a one-game suspension as an opportunity to give playing time to McGrady.
“I really looked at it. Tracy and I have been talking about this for awhile. When he plays it’s going to be very short minutes. With Trevor out tonight, the more I thought about it, it’s a good time to play him. We have four straight back to backs. I think it’s a good time to work him into short minutes. I plan to work him in to see how he feels and see where he is and it gives us a chance to play our regular guys some regular minutes.
“Trevor’s suspension got me thinking. The more I thought about the schedule, we need people.” Adelman said.
The Rockets’ coach said he would continue to use McGrady for short stints through the next six games, including Tuesday, to continue to gauge McGrady’s progress.
Adelman told McGrady of his decision when McGrady arrived at Toyota Center planning only to go through his usual workout.
“It’s just everything I went through last year and what it really took this off season to get back, to put myself in a position to be on the team, to be with these guys that I love so much, it’s a great feeling, man,” McGrady said. “It’s a very humbling feeling. My career definitely could have been over with the type of surgery that I had. The work that I put in, it’s good to be back.
“Honestly, how I’m feeling right now, I’m extremely nervous. I’m nervous. I’m not scared to tell you that. I’m extremely nervous right now. Looking back at what I went through and how the season went for me personally wasn’t a good feeling. I hate to watch film knowing how I was moving on the basketball court. I’m extremely excited to be playing again.”
McGrady has not played since Feb. 9 last season. He averaged 15.6 points, making just 38.8 percent of his shots last season. He underwent season-ending microfracture surgery Feb. 24.
“I proved over the year that I can play,” McGrady said. “I don’t have anything to prove to people outside, just myself that I can still play.”