But what he said and how he played were quite different.
McGrady scored 47 points and the Rockets beat the Jazz 106-95 on Thursday night, earning a little revenge for when Houston won the first two games but lost the playoff series.
"It doesn't really mean anything. It's only the second game of the season," said McGrady, who was 17-for-27 from the floor.
The Rockets improved to 2-0 under new coach Rick Adelman, who wasn't with Houston for Utah's first-round comeback last spring.
McGrady was, and seemed to take it personally with his 42nd career 40-point game. He also had more help than he did in the postseason, when the Rockets basically counted on him and Yao Ming to beat the Jazz.
"We feel like it's Game 8 for us," said Yao, referring to the seven-game series the Jazz rallied to win. "We wanted to get this win and start our new season."
Even with Yao on the bench with foul trouble and the Jazz knowing very well who was going to be getting the ball, Utah couldn't stop McGrady.
Inside, outside or at the foul line, McGrady carried the Rockets. He only missed 10 of his 27 field-goal attempts and went 11-for-14 from the line. He also added four assists and four rebounds.
"This is the start of a new season. I'm just feeling good mentally, physically and having fun playing basketball with my new teammates and coaching staff," McGrady said. "This is a fun system to play in."
The Rockets forced 20 turnovers while committing only 12, and the Jazz didn't help themselves any by going 20-for-29 from the foul line.
"We tried to go one-on-one. Everyone tried to beat them by themselves," Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. "We're not good enough to play that way."
Every time the Jazz made a run in the second half, McGrady stopped it. Okur hit a short jumper to get the Jazz within 89-82, but McGrady answered with a 3-pointer and did teammate Dikembe Mutombo's finger wag while backpedaling on defense. The "no, no, no" gesture seemed appropriate because the Jazz could not stop McGrady when they needed to all night.
"Tracy was just unbelievable," said Adelman, who inherited McGrady when he replaced former coach Jeff Van Gundy over the summer. "What I liked about him was he had a really good mix. He made jumpers, but he attacked the basket and went to the free throw line."
The Jazz, who were playing their home opener, got within five twice late in the fourth quarter, but no closer.
After Boozer cut the lead to 96-91, McGrady hit two free throws with 2:53 remaining, then Yao added a layup that cooled off Utah's comeback and quieted the fans.
Yao finished with 11 points and seven rebounds for the Rockets, who will play their home opener Saturday against Portland.
- Houston's reserves outscored Utah's 30-13.
- McGrady scored 13 of Houston's 24 points in the first quarter.
- Boozer had a double-double by halftime with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
- Jazz rookies Morris Almond and Kyrylo Fesenko were inactive for the second successive game.