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Follow the Nets' return to New York with Newsday's Rod Boone.

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Deron: With Gerald hurt, it's next man up

Nets' Gerald Wallace loses his balance as he

Nets' Gerald Wallace loses his balance as he is fouled at the basket by Charlotte Bobcats' Bismack Biyombo during the second half. (March 6, 2013) (Credit: AP)

INDIANAPOLIS -- Call it a weird phenomenon.

Seems like as soon as the Nets get one of their key injured players going again, someone else gets hurt. That was the case again Wednesday night in Boston, when Gerald Wallace went down in the second quarter.

The veteran small forward, who has been struggling mightily offensively since the All-Star break, suffered a left heel contusion and didn’t return. The Nets, who were off Thursday as they make their way from the northeast here to the nation’s heartland, have deemed Wallace’s injury a day-to-day thing.

Wallace, a prideful guy, left the visitor’s locker room at the TD Garden in a walking boot -- but not by choice. Deron Williams was ribbing him about putting it on and trainer Tim Walsh suggested he wear it for protection with hopes of shedding it today.

“Hopefully, Gerald will be fine quick, but other guys have to be ready to step up,” Williams said after the Nets took care of business against the Celtics. “[Wednesday night] it was Stack. He came in and played, gave us big minutes. I’m sure me and C.J. [Watson] will see some more time together, which has been a good lineup for us.

“So, it’s just part of the game. Players get hurt and guys have to fill in.”

Wallace’s injury came on a night when Joe Johnson finally looked like, well, Joe Johnson. The Nets have been waiting for their shooting guard to revert to his old form as he’s battled his sore left heel and right quadriceps bruise, and he’s apparently getting there.

But they’ll likely be pumping the brakes on Wallace. With the playoffs a little more than a week away, and given the Nets don’t have much to play for other than locking up the fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, holding Wallace out until the postseason would be a smart move.

As Williams indicated, Jerry Stackhouse is more than capable of plugging the void until then. Stackhouse started the second half in Wallace’s place and finished with seven points in 21:46.

“It is what it is,” Stackhouse said. “Hate to see somebody go down, one of our main guys in Gerald. Hopefully, he gets back and gets well. Every game that I don’t play, I sit on the edge of my seat wanting to play. It ain’t like I’m there comfortable and happy that I’m not playing. I want to play in the games and when I get my opportunity, I try to make the most of it.

“[Wednesday], it was a good win, a great atmosphere, a great playoff atmosphere, what we should, expect going into the playoffs, going into a hostile environment.”

Basically, the same kind of environment they’ll find themselves at Bankers Life Fieldhouse on Friday, when they take on the Pacers, who currently sit three games ahead of the Nets in the conference playoff picture.

“It’s a huge game, huge game,” Williams said. “They are standing there in front of us right now in the standings and while it’s going to be hard to catch them, one good way is to gain a full game on them by beating them. So, this is a big game for us.”

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