- Ohm Youngmisuk, ESPN Staff Writer
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Kevin Garnett will not make his second return to Boston due to back spasms.
The Nets' defensive quarterback did not make the trip with the team to Boston and will miss his fourth straight game on Friday because of his ailing back. Rookie Mason Plumlee could start again in place of Garnett.
The Nets, who have won four straight games, did not practice Thursday. But general manager Billy King doesn’t expect Garnett to be out for a significant amount of time.
“The one thing with KG, as we have done with all our guys, it is more about getting them to the point where they are ready for the stretch,” Billy King said in an interview on SiriusXM NBA Radio with Frank Isola and Stacey King. “There is no timetable on it. Just day-to-day. When he is ready and shows he is ready to go, he will be back. I don’t expect it to be a long time.”
Williams has missed 16 games this season with mostly ankle injuries; he sat out a nine-game stretch in late November and early December to heal.
Kirilenko has missed 29 games with injuries, including 25 straight games with a back injury.
“We sort of give them as much time as possible because as we look at the whole year, it is a long season,” King said of keeping injured players out until they are healthy. “And we want to play deep into the playoffs so we'd rather have [Garnett] close to 100 percent than at 60. He is making great progress. There is no timetable. I don’t expect him to be sitting for long.”
The Nets (30-29) beat Milwaukee, Chicago and Memphis without Garnett. Defensively, they held those three opponents to an average of 90.6 points and also recorded 14, 19 and 14 steals in each of those wins.
“[Garnett’s absence] makes guys step up,” Williams said. “And I think guys have stepped up to the challenge.”
Paul Pierce knows more than anyone how badly Garnett wants to play, especially in a game back in Boston. When the Nets played in Boston for the first time this season, on Jan. 26, the Celtics franchise honored Pierce and Garnett with an emotional tribute. It was a sentimental return for the former Celtics.
“It is tough for him,” Pierce said of Garnett's not being able to play. “We had a chance to see him get out on the court and do some extra stuff [on Wednesday before beating Memphis]. But he is a competitor. He hates to sit out. The good thing is we need him to get his rest so he can come back full strength.”
Lopez progress: Billy King also gave a progress report on injured center Brook Lopez, who is out for the season following foot surgery.
“He is making great progress,” he said. “Feeling good. The goal is to get him back preparing for the season. We expect him to be back on the court in the offseason and getting ready and have no ill effects from the injury.”