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Thursday, March 20, 2014
KG: I'll be back soon

By Mike Mazzeo

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Speaking to reporters for the first time in three weeks, Brooklyn Nets center Kevin Garnett said he’s improving physically, but doesn’t know when he’ll return to the lineup.

Garnett has missed the past 10 games because of back spasms. He will be re-evaluated Saturday before the Nets embark on a three-game road trip.

“I tweaked my back in the Denver game, and I’ve been declining ever since,” Garnett said. “But these last five days, I’m feeling better. Looking forward to getting back out there. Not going to go into details or specifics, but I’m just getting stronger, the process is going very well. I had a bit of a setback when I tried to come back [on March 10 against Toronto], but other than that, I've been getting strong ever since. We’re just working on some different dynamics, and it’s working for me, and I look [forward] to being out [there] soon.”

Garnett, 37, said this is the first time he’s dealt with back spasms in his 19-year career.

“The most frustrating part about this is that you just can’t push through this,” Garnett said. “The back obviously deals with the legs, the lower part of your body, the core, your hand movements, your breathing -- a lot of it comes into play. So it’s not like an ankle where I can muscle through it, a knee or an arm, neck, something. This is damn near your body, so I have a whole new respect for the body.”

Garnett says he has leaned on Andrei Kirilenko, who missed 25 games in a row because of back spasms.

“He’s helped me through all this,” Garnett said. “I have so much respect for the back now.”

Garnett had been tremendous in 2014 after getting off to a slow start with his new team, shooting 57 percent from the field. On the season, the Nets have a 100.6 defensive rating with Garnett on the court. That rating jumps to 105.5 without him on the court.

“I think my focus when I come back is being more of what I've been since I've been here, and that’s primarily a defensive anchor,” Garnett said. “Any shots, anything that comes between that, to try and be aggressive within those and understand what your primary [role] is.”

The Nets have gone 8-2 without Garnett. Rookie Mason Plumlee has stepped up in his place.

Brooklyn hasn't missed a beat on the defensive end, giving up 100 or more points just once over that span.

“You have to understand as one of the leaders here I try to lead by example,” Garnett said. “One of the things we do is we talk about communication, we talk about having each other’s backs, being there for the next guy and that’s exactly what guys have been doing. Obviously we can get better at communicating, but for the most part, being there for each other has been great.”

Garnett is happy with the way the team has played without him.

“I’ll talk to Jason [Kidd] tomorrow and see how the progression is going,” Garnett said. “But for right now, I’m happy with the guys and what they’re doing. What I see, I’m giving them from what I see as a student, watching the game, other than going out and playing together. I think [Deron Williams] is on a tear right now. He’s in a great rhythm right now. I think he’s leading our team and it’s beautiful. Hopefully we can continue to withstand this and I’ll come back and contribute and we’ll be ready for the big dance.”