8:00 PM ET, December 25, 2011
Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City, OK
OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma City Thunder came into the new season with lofty goals. They looked very much like a contender in their opener.
Kevin Durant scored 30 points to help the Thunder win their opener with a 97-89 victory Sunday night over Orlando, a team that has been dealing with Dwight Howard's trade demands since training camp opened.
While Durant shined, Howard struggled, held to just 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting.
"We know there are outside expectations," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "But there aren't absolutes or guarantees. Our guys just work. I know it gets boring at times, but we like that. We're not going to change. We're all in the same boat on that. You can never become complacent. It has to be about the team."
Durant led the league in scoring the past two seasons, including averaging 27.7 last season. On Sunday, he was 11 of 19 from the field and added five rebounds and six assists.
The Thunder lost to Dallas last year in the Western Conference finals but are expected to be one of the top teams this season. They led throughout, including by 18 at the end of the third quarter and really were never in danger of losing.
"It's something we can't control," Durant said of expectations. "We have to keep getting better every day and see what happens."
Kevin Durant scored 21 of his 30 points while operating in Oklahoma City's half court offense. Of those 21 points, 12 came on isolation plays.
|Isolation Plays||All Others|
|Pts per play||1.71||0.64|
The Magic looked like a team that was still dealing with the distraction of Howard and his trade demands, which dominated headlines in Orlando since the lockout ended. The All-Star center has softened his stance lately.
"I didn't like the pace of our offense," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "I thought we were moving slowly. I thought the ball didn't move."
NBA commissioner David Stern weighed in on the Howard situation Sunday, saying before the game, "That's the beauty of the soap opera. How it plays out, we'll wait and see."
Howard, the Magic's star center averaged more than 22 points per game last year, shooting 59 percent for the season.
He did have 15 rebounds.
A 13-2 run in the second quarter, after Durant and Russell Westbrook checked back in, helped the Thunder get out to a 17-point lead. They led 55-41 at the break. Durant had 14 points in the first half.
"It was a good game for us," Brooks said. "Everybody chipped in. We had a lot of good plays tonight."
Durant missed five free throws. He is a career 88 percent free throw shooter. ... The Thunder outscored the Magic in the paint, 32-30 but were outrebounded 45-43.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 25: Russell Westbrook #0 of the Oklahoma City Thunder calls out a play against the...(Photo by Layne Murdoch/NBAE via Getty Images)
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||30-81 (.370)||34-72 (.472)|
|3PM-3PA||8-28 (.286)||10-19 (.526)|
|FTM-FTA||21-26 (.808)||19-26 (.731)|
|Fast Break Points||8||9|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||25 (2/0)||22 (3/0)|
Next 5 Games
NEXT LEVEL: Kevin Durant was outstanding in the half court on Sunday, scoring 21 of his game-high 30 points. He was 8 of 15 in the half court (3-4 in transition) and 12 of his 21 half-court points came on isolation plays, where Durant made more than 70 percent of his field goals. Last season he shot under 40 percent in isolation, but got off to a strong start on this play type Sunday.[+]
Kevin Durant Half-Court Offense
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