“The Spurs and Rockets series was still going on and we were like, ‘it don’t matter who win, it’s our year,’ said Hardaway. “When Houston won, we got a little cocky because we beat them in both games in the regular season pretty handily.”
Orlando did, in fact, defeat the Rockets twice that season — once by 23 with a final score of 117-94 and the second time by 11, 107-96. Looking at how Hardaway performed in those two matchups with Houston, it’s easy to see why he was full of confidence.
Penny had 29 points, nine rebounds, seven steals and six assists in Orlando’s first win over the Rockets at home. He followed that up with a 30 point night to go along with seven rebounds, five assists and four steals when the teams met up again in Houston.
Since Penny was only 23 at the time and in just his second year in the league, he was probably a little bit naive in thinking that his regular season success would undoubtedly translate to the postseason.
“We were like, we’re gonna smash these dudes,” revealed Hardaway. After the Rockets dispatched of the San Antonio Spurs in six games, Penny and the Magic would get their wish, and they wouldn’t like it.