Magic Ground Rockets

The Houston Rockets just can't seem to beat the Orlando Magic.

Chris Gatling scored 22 points and Darrell Armstrong hit four free throws in the final 13 seconds as the Magic beat the winless Rockets for the 10th straight time, 102-97 Monday night.

Orlando fell behind 10-0 and didn't take its first lead until Gatling's free throw put the Magic up 75-74 with 1:04 left in the third period.

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Game Summary

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  • "We started slow, but I told the guys before the game these guys were 0-3 and they would come out with a lot of energy and try to get a quick lead," said Orlando's first-year coach, Doc Rivers.

    "We just wanted to keep running on them and keep the pressure on. I knew if we kept the fast break going eventually we'd get some breaks. That's what got us back in the game."

    Houston, which hasn't beaten the Magic since the final game of its sweep in the 1995 NBA Finals, fell to 0-4 for the first time since 1982.

    "We shot ourselves in the foot tonight," said coach Rudy Tomjanovich, whose team committed 27 turnovers. "They didn't do anything special to get back in the game. We've just got to put the ball in the basket and not have so many turnovers."

    The Rockets led by 13 points with 4:49 left in the second quarter. But Orlando cut the margin to three at halftime, and overtook the Rockets in the second half to improve to 3-2 this season.

    "We're definitely trying to prove people wrong this year and I think we're doing that now," Gatling said. "A lot of people thought we'd only win eight or 10 games this year."

    "With Doc making his coaching debut we wanted to play hard for him. We're a real team, it's not individuals here."

    Reserve Cuttino Mobley led Houston with 25 points.

    "I'm just hungry right now," Mobley said. "We've got o give up a little to get a little. We had some tough calls, but when you're losing like this it seems like everything goes against you."

    Charles Barkley had 18 points and 17 rebounds for the Rockets, while Hakeem Olajuwon had 16 points and eight rebounds.

    Corey Maggette, playing despite a sprained right knee, scored six points in an 11-3 run that cut Houston's lead to 55-52 late in the second quarter.

    Tariq Abdul-Wahad scored eight of his 10 points in the third quarter, helping the Magic tie it twice.

    After Orlando took an 89-83 lead with 6:45 to play, the Rockets got the lead back with a 10-2 run that featured a 3-pointer and two free throws by Mobley. Armstrong's basket with 1:44 left put the Magic ahead 95-94.

    John Amaechi scored 18 points for Orlando, and Maggette had 14 points in 14 minutes.

    Houston made 13 of 14 free throws in the first quarter while building a 31-22 lead.


  • Orlando's victory was its 400th in franchise history.
  • The Magic's 10-game winning streak over Houston is their longest over any opponent.

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