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News » Krstic finds his touch

Krstic finds his touch

Krstic finds his touch
When Oklahoma City signed Nenad Krstic last month, the Thunder's coaching staff and front office executives wanted to keep expectations at a minimum for the 7-foot center.

They can kiss that goal goodbye.

It's taken Krstic only five games to show Oklahoma City how much better he makes the Thunder. Krstic recorded his first double-double in Wednesday night's 114-93 win over the Utah Jazz, scoring 14 points with 11 rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes. He added two blocked shots for the fourth time in five games, continuing to contradict his critics who have labeled him a defensive liability.

"He's a great addition," said Kevin Durant, who scored 21 points with nine rebounds. "He's getting used to everybody. Any player would take a couple of games, but he's getting used to it quick. He's learning quick, and he's doing well."

Because of his relatively cheap three-year contract at just less than $16 million, Krstic was a low-risk addition when Thunder general manager Sam Presti lured him away from his Russian club team. The only question was whether Krstic could revert to the player who averaged 16.6 points and 6.8 rebounds in 2006-07 for New Jersey before a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee limited him to 26 games.

But Krstic, with performances like Wednesday night's, is responding to the NBA world with an emphatic "Yes."

"(My confidence) is still growing," Krstic said. "It's just the beginning. I just started playing like 10 days ago, so it's really growing and growing. Every game I feel more comfortable, and I think confidence is going to come too."

Krstic is proving to be as good as advertised on pick-and-pop plays. During one minute and a half stretch during the second quarter, he buried three straight jumpers from 17 feet. He sank two more long jumpers late in the fourth quarter off pick-and-pop plays with guard Russell Westbrook.

"What he does for us is spread the defense out on the offensive end," said Thunder coach Scott Brooks. "And defensively, he does a great job being a great team defender. That gives us the ability to get stops and to get out and run in transition."

Krstic, who is averaging 10 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in five games, said he's focused more on defense after developing a reputation as a poor defender during his four seasons in New Jersey.

"I just want to show I can play defense, too," Krstic said. "Sometimes I play good, sometimes not. But the good thing is I'm trying really hard."

And raising expectations each step of the way.

Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website:
Added: January 17, 2009


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