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Thunder crushes Magic, reminds you they are contenders

Orlando Magic v Oklahoma City Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY, OK - DECEMBER 25: Dwight Howard #12 of the Orlando Magic looks inside as Nazr Mohammed #8 of the Oklahoma City Thunder defends during the NBA season opening game December 25, 2011 at the Chesapeake Energy Arena in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Oklahoma City led Orlando at the half. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)

Brett Deering

This game went pretty much like everyone expected.

The Oklahoma City Thunder looked like the contenders with Kevin Durant playing like an MVP candidate, the team playing balanced on offense and showing real depth with their second unit.

The Magic just looked confused. Dwight Howard looked off.

In the end that led to a blowout. It was a 97-89 final, but that was not indicitive of how convincing a win this was for Oklahoma City, which was up 18 after three.

Oklahoma City basically relied on the same system Atlanta used to knock Orlando out of the playoffs last year — if you have a big man who can defend Howard one-one-one and keep him in check you can shut down the Magic. Kendrick Perkins held Howard to 11 points on 4-of-12 shooting. The Thunder closed out at the arc and held the Magic to 28.6 percent from three. That’s your ballgame.

The other key was depth. Off the bench for the Thunder Nick Collison was +18, Eric Maynor +12, Nazir Mohammed +12 and James Harden +8 with 19 points (second best on the team).

I’m not sure we learned anything new here. We knew the Thunder were contenders and they looked the part. We had questions about the Magic and how the team would be built, how they and Howard would deal with the swirling trade rumors, and it didn’t look good.

One game does not a season make, but both teams lived up to expectations on Christmas.