Third-quarter spurt lifts Magic over Rockets

Jason Richardson and Brandon Bass scored 18 points apiece, and the Orlando Magic rolled to a 110-95 victory over the Houston Rockets on Friday night.

The victory extended the Magic's season-best winning streak to eight games. The loss was the fourth straight for Houston.

Orlando clung to a three-point advantage at the half, but blew open the game by starting the third quarter on a 19-5 run to build a 74-55 cushion. Bass had seven points during the spurt to help the Magic take a 92-71 lead into the final period.

Bass and Richardson helped overcome a 27-point night by Kevin Martin, who was coming off a 45-point performance in a loss to Portland on Wednesday.

It also negated a quiet night from Dwight Howard, who was forced to the bench early with foul problems.

The Magic took a 53-50 lead into halftime, but needed every one of the opening 24 minutes to earn that early edge.

The Rockets led by as many as nine points in a fast-paced first quarter in which both teams shot over 50 percent from the floor. Martin had 19 in the first half, including 11 in the first quarter, as he exploited a lane that was mostly void of Howard's presence.

Howard picked up two quick fouls in the first quarter and got his third whistle of the night with 9:33 remaining in the second quarter. He logged just 10 minutes of action in the half.

The Magic stayed close on the backs of Richardson and Bass, who had 13 and 11 first half points, respectively. Orlando also shot 51 percent from the field and 4 of 9 from the 3-point line. Richardson connected on all three of his long-range attempts.

Houston has been undersized at center most of this season with 6-foot-6 Chuck Hayes in the middle. But Friday the Rockets started 6-10 Jordan Hill, as Hayes continued to nurse the sore right ankle that has now sidelined him for five straight games.