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Saturday, April 5, 2014
Garnett 'able to contribute' in return

By Mike Mazzeo

Brooklyn Nets center Kevin Garnett said he felt like a rookie on Saturday night in Philadelphia.

"I had to blow the cobwebs off some of the plays," the 37-year-old veteran, who had missed the past 19 games due to back spasms, told reporters. "I was not nervous, but really anxious to get out there."

The question going in was simple: What Garnett were the Nets getting? The KG that was struggling to become acclimated with his new role and fighting a losing battle with Father Time in 2013, or the KG that had become their emotional leader and helped turn their season around before getting hurt in 2014?

Kevin Garnett
Kevin Garnett finished with 10 points and four rebounds against the 76ers.
It didn’t take long for him to provide the answer.

Playing for the first time since Feb. 27, Garnett hit his first four shots from the field, combined on a well-executed pick-and-roll alley-oop jam with point guard Deron Williams and swatted Michael Carter-Williams' layup attempt as the 76ers rookie drove to the rim.

He finished with 10 points, 4 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block in 13 minutes in the Nets’ 105-101 victory over the Sixers at Wells Fargo Center.

"I thought he was great," Nets coach Jason Kidd told reporters. "He looked like he didn’t miss a day."

The Nets had gone 14-5 without Garnett, but they were certainly glad to have him back.

"I’m just glad I didn’t mess anything up," said Garnett, who also passed Alex English for 14th place on the all-time scoring list (25,614 points). "The guys have been playing great without me, and I’m glad I was able to contribute."

The Nets (42-34) have just six games remaining. It’s unknown how many of them Garnett will play in. He told reporters that there is a plan in place but wouldn’t reveal what it entails. Brooklyn has two sets of back-to-back games left, so you can pretty much count on him resting at for at least two of those six.

As has been well documented, the Nets didn’t acquire Garnett for the regular season. They acquired him for the playoffs, and he looks like he’ll be ready to give them 20-25 minutes a night once they begin.

"Obviously, I’m not where I wanna be, but I felt good, I felt strong," Garnett said. "It’s been a journey to get back to this point, so I’m just trying to contribute at this point."

Rookie Mason Plumlee stepped up and performed admirably in Garnett’s place, shooting 64.7 percent from the field, but there’s no question the Nets missed their defensive anchor. Their defensive rating suffered, as did their rebounding rates. And they certainly missed his patented midrange jumper.

Garnett tried to come back on March 10 against Toronto, but he suffered a setback.

"It was all systems fail," he said.

On Saturday night, though, it was all systems go. Now, the Nets just have to hope Garnett stays as healthy as possible through the rest of April and beyond.

"Hopefully, he can build on it, and hopefully, he feels great," Kidd said.