And when he doesn’t, they usually lose.
The Nets improved to 13-5 with Kirilenko in the lineup -- against 9-20 without him -- after beating the San Antonio Spurs 103-89 Friday night at Barclays Center.
Kirilenko, who finished with season highs in both rebounds (eight) and assists (six), had missed the previous three games due to a sore right calf. The Nets were a plus-12 in his 26 minutes on the court.
“I try to be energetic,” said Kirilenko, who had missed 26 games earlier in the season due to back spasms. “I’m more worried right now just staying healthy, that’s the main thing for me. I’m doing whatever the doctors say, preparing myself for the game.
“That’s the main issue for me right now, and I know when I’m healthy, I can be one of the most energetic players; always hustling and fighting for the ball and try to develop for the team.”
Kevin Garnett was quick to praise Kirilenko.
“I think more importantly he impacts the defense,” Garnett said. “Kirilenko does a lot of different things, he is a great passer, he sees the floor very differently, similar to a point guard but defensively is where he is like an octopus. He has his hands in the lane, hands on rebounds, hands on the floor, we need him. He does so much of the small things for us that don’t really show up on the stat line sometimes.”
Question: How valuable has Kirilenko been for the Nets this season?
In case you missed it: Charles Barkley ripped the Nets, Brook Lopez attended his first game since breaking his foot, Joe Johnson will participate in the 3-Point Contest at All-Star Weekend and the Nets beat the shorthanded Spurs.
Stats of the night: The Nets grabbed a season-high 53 rebounds Friday night and outscored the Spurs in the paint, 56-32. Brooklyn is 20-1 after three quarters, 13-0 when holding its opponent under 95 points. The Nets have won their last 16 games when leading at halftime.
Up next: The Nets travel to Detroit to take on the Pistons Friday night at the Palace of Auburn Hills. KG is not expected to play.