Armstrong had 20 points as Orlando defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 119-102 Thursday night. Fifteen of Armstrong's points came in the third quarter, the result of a sugar boost.
"I've started eating my chocolate at halftime," Armstrong said. "All of a sudden, I've just got some energy coming from anywhere during the third quarter. I'm still drinking my coffee before the game. Whatever works, I'll take it."
So will Magic coach Doc Rivers.
"The (12-point halftime) lead we had, he really thought we should have had more," Rivers said. "That's what he was saying at halftime and that energy was more leadership trying to get everybody going. Tracy (McGrady) was under the weather and Darrell really felt he needed to give the team a lift energy wise and he did."
Armstrong shot 4-of-7 3-pointers and added six rebounds, four
assists and three steals. McGrady had a game-high 22 points and
seven rebounds before joining Armstrong on the bench for the final
Mike Miller had 19 points and reserve Monty Williams scored a season-high 13. Orlando has won four of its last five and moved
three games over the .500 mark for the first time this season.
The Clippers have dropped four of six and also may have lost forward Corey Maggette, who dislocated the little finger on his right hand after playing 20 minutes.
Elton Brand, who missed Wednesday's game against Miami with a stretched tendon in his ring finger, had 19 points and 15 rebounds to lead Los Angeles. Jeff McInnis added 18 points and reserve Quentin Richardson scored 15.
Los Angeles made only 16 of 27 free throws.
"The one thing about this team is that if we're going to be in this playoff race, then we have to establish some consistency," Clippers coach Alvin Gentry said. "We can't play solid one night defensively and then come out the next night and give up 119."
McGrady scored eight consecutive points to give Orlando a 69-49 lead with 9:03 left in the third quarter. After Horace Grant's field goal, Armstrong scored the next seven points to put Orlando ahead 78-51. The Magic led by no fewer than 20 points the rest of the quarter and by at least 17 throughout the fourth.
Los Angeles closed Orlando's lead to 48-44 with 3:29 left before
the half, but Orlando finished on a 10-2 run to lead 58-46. Miller
led all scorers with 17 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Michael
Olowokandi had 12 points for the Clippers.
Orlando has won 12 of its last 15 games against Los Angeles, including eight of nine at home. ... The Magic have scored at least 106 points in their last four wins. ... Orlando is 19-8
this year when reaching the 100-point mark. ... Brand recorded his
36th double-double this season. ... Los Angeles' Sean Rooks was the only player in the game who did not score at least two points. ...
Orlando's bench outscored Los Angeles' 49-36.