ORLANDO, Fla. -- The Orlando Magic, asserting themselves as a team to be reckoned with during this lockout-shortened season, improved the best record in the Eastern Conference to 8-2 Sunday with a 109-83 rout of the Houston Rockets.
Nick Anderson and Darrell Armstrong each scored 19 points and Penny Hardaway had 16 points and 11 assists for the Magic, which never trailed in remaining unbeaten in five home games.
The loss was the third in four games for Houston after a 5-1 start. A day after scoring a season-low 71 points in a 10-point loss at Miami, the Rockets were unable to overcome being held to 17 points in the first quarter and only 10 in the third.
Hakeem Olajuwon led the Rockets with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Scottie Pippen had 19 points, but was ejected during a scoreless second half in which he missed all four of his shots and drew two technicals in verbal exchanges with the officials.
Pippen singlehandedly kept the Rockets in the game early, scoring 16 in the second quarter and helping Houston trim a 13-point deficit to 46-43 at the half.
That was as close as it would get the rest of the way.
The Magic began the third quarter with an 18-4 run, then scored the last eight points of the period and first three of the fourth to build their lead to 75-53.
Houston's frustration peaked when Pippen was called for a technical foul while sitting on the bench early in the fourth quarter. The Rockets star was ejected after exchanging words with referee Hue Hollins with 4:41 remaining.
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