The Orlando Magic know they can count on Dwight Howard.
Maybe they can start counting on young Earl Clark.
Both of them made the Magic's 111-88 trouncing of the trade-depleted Oklahoma City Thunder possible Friday night.
Howard provided a dominant performance, scoring 40 points, collecting 15 rebounds and blocking six shots. Clark came off the bench and helped stymie Kevin Durant, the most dangerous scorer in the sport.
"Our team is looking for a defender," Clark said, "and I felt as though it was my chance to show my coach that you can put me on the best guy on the team and I can slow him down."
Add it all up, and the Magic treated the announced crowd of 19,011 inside Amway Center to one of the team's most impressive victories since New Year's. Orlando held Oklahoma City to 33.3 percent shooting from the field, one of the Thunder's least accurate shooting nights of the season.
It was exactly the kind of focused, energetic performance Magic coach Stan Van Gundy wants to see from his defense game-in and game-out.
"There's got to be a consistency to what we do," Van Gundy said. "We've got to try to be that team every night."
The Magic were that team from start to finish Friday.
The Thunder missed 11 of their first 13 shots.
Even explosive Russell Westbrook, one of the NBA's most dynamic point guards, made just seven of his 19 shot attempts and dished out only three assists.
"Their defense was smothering," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.
Clark helped lead the way.
Van Gundy played the second-year forward because Clark has all the physical tools to keep up with Durant, the NBA's reigning scoring champion and its leading scorer this season. Clark is 6 feet 10, has long arms and quick feet.
What Clark doesn't possess is experience.
"I just look at it as an honor just to go out there and my teammates trust me enough to guard him," Clark said. "I just wanted to go out there and make it tough for him tonight."
Clark and Hedo Turkoglu did exactly that, with help from Howard, who patrolled the lane and covered up most of his teammates' mistakes.
A 46.9 percent shooter entering the night, Durant made just seven of his 22 shot attempts against the Magic. He made just two shots from inside the foul line.
"We missed some shots," Durant said. "They came down and hit some 3s. That kind of broke our backs a little bit."
Orlando Magic rout Thunder behind dominant performance from Dwight Howard
We've upgraded our reader commenting system. Learn more about the new features.
Los Angeles Times welcomes civil dialogue about our stories; you must register with the site to participate. We filter comments for language and adherence to our Terms of Service, but not for factual accuracy. By commenting, you agree to these legal terms. Please flag inappropriate comments.
Having technical problems? Check here for guidance.