The backup guard was a point-a-minute man Tuesday night, scoring a career-high 28 to help the Magic stop Charlotte's three-game winning streak with an 86-78 victory.
"The little fellow was just about doing everything," Hornets coach Paul Silas said of the 6-foot-1 Armstrong, who's led the Magic in scoring four times this year and is averaging 19.3 in his last six games.
"He's been the spark. He knows his role, and he's been terrific at it," Orlando coach Chuck Daly said. "He only played 28 minutes, but they were 28 dynamite, energetic minutes."
The Magic pulled away late in the fourth quarter, getting a big 3-pointer from Penny Hardaway during a 14-5 spurt that put the game out of reach.
Armstrong made eight of 14 shots from the field and was a career-best 11-for-11 from the foul line. Rookie Matt Harpring had season highs for points (16), rebounds (9) and assists (4), and Hardaway finished with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"We had our opportunity," said Phills. "We could have been down one with a few seconds on the clock. It could have been anybody's ball game at that point. We did not play our best, but we lost to a good team."
Armstrong has established himself as a contender for the NBA's sixth man of the year award, currently leading all NBA players without a start in points, assists and steals per game.
He also took his team-leading 24th charge on defense against the Hornets.
"I can take a beating," he said. "Right now, I don't even feel it. I might feel it in the morning. Sometimes you just have to go out there and give up your body."
The Magic led 40-34 at the half, getting 14 points from Armstrong and 10 from Harpring, who made his sixth pro start in place of the injured Bo Outlaw.
Armstrong scored nine straight during a stretch of the second quarter and finished an 11-0 run with a steal and pretty no-look to pass to Hardaway for a dunk. Charlotte weathered the surge and led most of the third quarter before Orlando took control for good.
The victory was the fifth in six games for the Magic, who bounced back from blowing a 24-point lead in losing to the Los Angeles Lakers on Sunday.
- The Hornets are 5-4 since Silas replaced Dave Cowens as coach
- Two days after coming off the injured list, Orlando's Gerald Wilkins went back on after straining his left calf before the game. Rookie Miles Simon was activated to fill the roster opening
- Magic leading scorer Nick Anderson missed his first eight shots after going 2-for-14 in Sunday's loss to the Lakers. He finished with four points on 2-for-12 shooting, but had eight rebounds and three steals.
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