NBA's twilight players in a zone, Friday

This was a night on which a few of the NBA’s elder statesmen, those in the twilight of impressive careers, brought back memories of some of their better days.

Tracy McGrady


Tracy McGrady scored a season-high 22 points for the Detroit Pistons in their 101-95 win over the Toronto Raptors. It was only the second time this season that McGrady reached the 20-point mark, the first time he did so against the Raptors (the team with which he debuted) since December, 2007.

Shaquille O’Neal was 10-for-12 from the field, finishing with 23 points and five blocked shots, as the Boston Celtics downed the Charlotte Bobcats, 99-94. It’s the first 20-point, five-block game for O’Neal since the 2004-05 season.

Shaquille O'Neal


There was a time when such games were a regular occurrence.

A check of Basketball-Reference.com shows that this was O’Neal’s 110th career game hitting both of those plateaus. Next among active players is Tim Duncan with 74.

O’Neal and McGrady have each won two scoring titles, but of late the two haven’t done much scoring. In fact, Friday was the first time in nearly two full years that both players reached 20 points on the same night. Elias tells us that the last time that happened was January 26, 2009.

Kurt Thomas

ThomasNot to be outdone by the scorers was Chicago Bulls forward Kurt Thomas, who pulled down a season-best 18 rebounds. It was the most rebounds Thomas had in a game since November 30, 2007 and was tied for the sixth-highest total of his career.

These three players were in their primes the last time that the Dallas Mavericks were in a funk as bad as the one they’re in right now. The night's other big story was that Dallas dropped its third straight game by double digits, losing to the San Antonio Spurs, 101-89. The Elias Sports Bureau tells us the last time they lost three straight by at least 10 points was from November 20-24, 1999.