By A.Sherrod Blakely
BOSTON When players are hurt, the time off the court tends to give them a perspective that they didn't necessarily have earlier.
Look no further than Boston's Nenad Krstic, whose play off the bench was among the many reasons Boston was able to pull away for a 99-82 win over Philadelphia.
The Celtics (54-23) got eight points and six rebounds from Krstic, who came off the bench for the first time since being traded to Boston on Feb. 24.
More significant than the games played, was the two games he did not play in after suffering a bone bruise in his right knee against San Antonio last week.
Prior to the injury, Krstic was playing some of his worst basketball since becoming a Celtic.
Too often he would be out of position defensively.
And on offense, he would wait too long around the basket to make a move rather than take it up strong quickly.
"Maybe this is a good thing, missing two games," Krstic said. "Everything settled down in my head a little bit. Just sitting outside, watching the other guys playing. I think it helps."
When Krstic first arrived, he played with little thought on the court.
And the results were surprisingly positive.
But the more he tried to learn the various sets and the way the Celtics go about doing things, the more mistakes crept into his game.
On more than one occasion in recent weeks, Rivers has lit into Krstic for allowing his mistakes on offense to distract him from his job defensively.
But on Tuesday, it was clear that Krstic got back to just playing, and not thinking so much.
"You know what I say: thinking hurts the team," Rivers said. "I just thought he played with instincts. And he's starting to get our stuff a little bit better, too."
That combination gives the Celtics a player that help them in multiple ways.
For Krstic, he admits that the time off has helped him become even more comfortable with his new teammates.
"I got here first couple weeks. I realize I was thinking about making the right play, every play," Krstic said. "It's not going to help; just play basketball. Even if I make a mistake, Rivers is going to yell at me for five seconds. Just next play."