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News » Defensive improvement

Defensive improvement

Defensive improvement
Joe Smith (four) and Desmond Mason (three) combined for seven of the Thunder's eight blocked shots. The veteran forwards said the key to getting late-game defensive stops has been better help on defense.

"We're trusting each other a little more," Mason said. "Guys are rotating better on defense. One reason I could go for some blocks tonight is I knew my guy behind me was going to help on defense, which allowed me to go across and contest some shots."


Coach Scott Brooks said center Nenad Krstic, who recently signed a three-year, $15.6 million deal, is in fine condition. The final step is learning the playbook. Krstic, who played four years with the Nets, will make his Thunder debut tonight at Minnesota or at home Friday against Houston.

"I want to get him on the same page with everybody," Brooks said. "I want to be able to call a play and he go right to it without thinking. There's nothing like being on the court and not being sure where to be... But he is close to understanding about everything we do. He's a smart kid with a high Basketball IQ."


The Cartoon Network was in town this week to film a promotional segment with Kevin Durant. Durant was the first of five NBA players to be filmed. Durant's segment is scheduled to run later this month and also will be featured online. Utah's Deron Williams and Boston's Ray Allen also will shoot spots.

"I'm a big kid myself, so it was a lot of fun," Durant said.

A sample question: What kind of cereal do you eat? "Fruity Pebbles," Durant said. "And Trix."


Both teams are playing their best Basketball of the season. OKC is a missed Carmelo Anthony buzzer-beater away from a three-game winning streak. Minnesota was mired in a 13-game losing streak in mid-December but is 5-2 the past two weeks.

"Both teams area very similar," Jeff Green said. "We have guys who can play multiple positions. ... Both teams are young and getting better as the season goes along. It will be a tough game. We just need to have the same intensity."


Smith returned after missing three games with a knee contusion. Rookie guard Kyle Weaver dressed out, but Brooks instead went with veteran Damien Wilkins off the bench. Forward Nick Collison (fractured thumb) once again was in street clothes but might return this weekend.


The Thunder has scored 100 or more points four consecutive games. ... Oklahoma City shot 52.7 percent from the field. Oddly, the Thunder is only 2-7 when shooting 50 percent or better. ... The 35-point first quarter was OKC's best start all season. ... The Thunder was shooting 90 percent (18-of-20) at the line before slumping in the fourth quarter (6-of-11).

Author: Fox Sports
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Added: January 9, 2009


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