The Oklahoma City Thunder begin the 2011-12 season with a Christmas night game against the Orlando Magic at the Chesapeake Energy Arena tonight.
The Thunder open the season as one of the favorites to win the Western Conference. Last year, Oklahoma CIty finished the regular season as the fourth seed and advanced to the Western Conference finals before falling in six games to the eventual NBA champion Dallas Mavericks.
Orlando was also the number four seed in the Eastern Conference in 2010-11. The Magic were ousted in the first round by the Atlanta Hawks in six games.
Oklahoma City is led by Kevin Durant, who has led the NBA in scoring the past two seasons, including a 27-point-7 points per game average last year. Point guard Russell Westbrook emerged last year as an All-Star, averaging 21.9 points and 8.2 assists per game.
Dwight Howard leads the Orlando attack. Howard, who is one of the most highly sought after free agents in the game. The 6'11" center averaged 22.9 points and 14.1 rebounds per contest last season.
Tonight's game is the first of an abbreviated 66-game season due to the NBA lockout. After tonight's game, the Thunder will get no time off, having to travel to play the Minnesota Timberwolves Monday night at 7 p.m.
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