The 4-game win streak and domination of the Eastern Conference came to a sudden stop Friday night.
Tracy McGrady mcpopped off for 35 points, 34 through three quarters, as the Magic cruised to the 108-93 win over the Rockets in Orlando.
The win drops the Rockets record to .500 at 26-26.
McGrady hit 16-24 shots to lead the Magic, but the Rockets have themselves to blame. They committed 22 turnovers -- 18 of which came in the first half -- as the energy and hustle of the Orlando squad frustrated the Rockets' offensive set.
It also didn't help the Rocks hit just 2-15 shots from long range.
Despite the loss, Cuttino Mobley was awesome in the fourth quarter, though until he passed it to Moochie Norris late in the fourth I would have sworn he had no idea there were 4 other guys playing on his team. Cat nailed 5 field goals and scored 14 points in the first 4 minutes of the fourth quarter as he helped the Rockets whittle a once 22-point Magic lead down to 9, but they would get no closer.
Mobley finished with 31 points on 8-13 from the field, hitting 14 of 16 free throws to boot.
Starting out hot was Hakeem Olajuwon, who scored 10 points and grabbed 4 boards in the first quarter, finishing with 16 points, 15 boards and 3 blocks.
Steve Francis had an off game, scoring just 13 points and missing 9 of his 14 shots. Darrell Armstrong (20 points, 9 asssists, 5 boards) got the better of Franchise.
Kenny Thomas came off the bench and for the first time in a while put up a nice box score, finishing with 13 and 7. He had some nice moves in the paint, particularly one spin move that started at the top of the key and saw him twirl around a defender for the deuce. Maurice Taylor was a wreck this game, hitting just 4-12 shots and committing 6 turnovers in 23 minutes.
Kelvin Cato made his return -- long-awaited return -- from a number of injuries, playing the last 3+ minutes of garbage time. He scored 3 points and grabbed a rebound -- so league take notice: Cato will be leading the league in glass cleans, as promised, in no time.
Hakeem Olajuwon was hot in the first quarter, hitting 5 of 7 shots for 10 points and 4 boards, but the Magic, who led by as much as 9 in the period, took a 4-point edge 26-22 after one behind the scoring of Darrell Armstrong (10 points) and Tracy McGrady (9).
The Rockets came back strong, tying the score at 28, but with the game knotted up at 32 all, the Magic ran off on a 12-2 run, capped by two buckets by McGrady, making it 44-34 Orlando.
20 of the Magic's 44 points came off Rockets turnovers... the Rockets converted Magic turnovers in to 4 points.
After Steve scored and Mobley scored on a drive and got fouled (but missed the free throw), the Rockets were within 44-39, but McGrady got hot again and after Armstrong found Bo Outlaw underneath on a fast break (again off a Rocket turnover), the Magic were up 52-40.
It was 52-43 Orlando at intermission, and largely due to Tracy McGrady's 20 points and the Rockets 18 turnovers -- AT HALF!
If the first half was bad, the third quarter was sick.
McGrady popped off for another 14 points (hitting 6-7 in the period), giving him 34 heading in to the fourth quarter, but more importantly the Magic built up a 22-point lead.
After three it was 83-66 Orlando.
The team was the Houston Mobleys in the fourth.
Mobley tried to take it upon himself in the fourth quarter -- literally. After one drive, Cuttino got the bucket and foul, then followed that up with a jumper and the Rockets were within 12 at 92-80 with just under 8 minutes left.
In the first 4 minutes of the fourth, Mobley had 5 field goals and 14 points.
After Olajuwon nailed two free throws with just over 5 minutes to go, the Rockets were down by 9 at 96-87, but from there they went cold, and when Darrell Armstrong nailed a prayer runner with 3:30 left as the shot clock was running out, the Rockets had to call timeout, down 100-87.
Kelvin Cato came in after the timeout, but the game was never much closer as the Magic coasted to the win.