KG 'in awe a little bit' of Lopez

WASHINGTON, D.C. –- Kevin Garnett has played just 12 minutes with Brook Lopez. But Garnett loved every one of the minutes Lopez provided in the Nets' 111-106 overtime victory Tuesday night.

Lopez made 6 of 7 shots and scored 15 points as the Nets looked early and often to their big man.

Lopez might be the biggest beneficiary of the Nets' offseason additions, getting to work with Garnett and having more scorers around him. But Garnett sounds like the real winner.

“Just in awe a little bit,” Garnett said of Lopez. “The skill level is impressive. I haven’t been around a skill level like that playing with [a big man] I don’t think ever.”

It was only the preseason opener, but the overtime victory provided a glimpse of what the Nets want to do this season. They want to go to Lopez early, establish an inside presence with the All-Star big man and work off that. They posted him up, drove, penetrated and dished to Lopez, and hit the center on quick touch passes in the paint.

“That is what we are going to try to do night in and night out, establish our inside game,” Paul Pierce said. “We feel like we have an advantage there. He is one of the best young centers in the league, and we are going to establish him. He is going to be a force to be reckoned with.

“If he can come in and be an All-Star again this year, it will do wonders for our team.”

While the Nets have stars at every position with Deron Williams, Pierce, Garnett and Joe Johnson, Lopez could be their No. 1 advantage. There just aren’t many centers as skilled and as big as Lopez.

Lopez said he feels stronger this preseason, and it showed in Washington. He said that with the cast around him, any Net can have a big night.

“Our team is just so fortunate when you look at our starting lineup,” Lopez said. “It can come from anywhere any night.”

The Nets, though, will look to Lopez quite a bit.

“If Brook gets it in the post, Brook’s still got to look to score,” GM Billy King said last week. “We need Brook to average 20 [points]. We don’t need Brook to average 15 and 10 assists. We need Brook to average 20.”