NBA Game Summary - Orlando at Oklahoma City
(Sunday, December 25th)
Final Score: Oklahoma City 97, Orlando 89
Oklahoma City, OK (Sports Network) - After falling short of an NBA Finals appearance last season, Kevin Durant and the Thunder started the 2011-12 campaign determined to advance to the next level.
Durant, the NBA's scoring leader each of the last two years, posted 30 points as Oklahoma City ran past the Orlando Magic, 97-89, in the season-opener for both teams. Durant also had six assists and five rebounds.
"Kevin probably had his best passing game," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "He was finding open shooters across the court. That's what we've been talking about, stressing all training camp. We saw some carry over tonight."
James Harden came off the bench for 19 points and Russell Westbrook tallied 14 points, seven rebounds and six assists in the victory.
The Thunder, coming off a Western Conference finals loss to the Mavericks, built a 14-point halftime lead and were in front by as many as 22 in the fourth quarter.
Dwight Howard, who requested a trade from the Magic in the offseason, totaled 11 points and 15 rebounds. Ryan Anderson led the way with 25 points and 10 boards. Jameer Nelson scored 18 in defeat.
"On the defensive end, I didn't think we were good in the first half," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought we got much better in the second half. Offensively, we just weren't good all night."
Orlando, which was ousted in the first round of the playoffs last season, bolted to an 18-11 lead with under eight minutes left in the opening quarter. The Thunder, though, finished the period on a 16-4 burst, capped by seven made free throws from Harden, sandwiched around a Nazr Mohammed jumper.
The Thunder continued to widen the gap in the second. Durant drove the right baseline for a two-handed flush, and a slimmer Kendrick Perkins found Nick Collison for a layup, expanding the lead to 48-31 with 5:02 left in the half.
After holding a 55-41 lead at the break, Oklahoma City maintained the double- digit advantage throughout the third, carrying an 81-63 cushion into the fourth.
The largest lead was 85-63 following a Daequan Cook 3-pointer, but the Magic finally got within single digits in the latter stages. Anderson's 3-point make from the left corner trimmed the deficit to 95-87 with 1:20 left.
It was too late for a comeback, though, as the Thunder won at home for a third straight time over the Magic.
This marks the fourth straight season and ninth time overall that the Magic have played on Christmas Day, where they have posted a record of 5-4...Westbrook accounted for seven of his team's 17 turnovers...Glen Davis, who was acquired in the offseason from the Celtics, had six points and five rebounds...Jason Richardson shot 1-of-10 from the field and had two points for the Magic.
12/25 23:12:51 ET