Nets hope Gerald Wallace will be available to guard LeBron

Gerald Wallace steals the ball from the Boston Gerald Wallace steals the ball from the Boston Cetlics' Paul Pierce during a preseason game at the Barclays Center. (Oct. 18, 2012) Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

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Maybe a dip in the warm South Florida water will help soothe the Nets' feelings.

Either way, they must quickly pick themselves up off the canvas following Monday night's loss to an undermanned Minnesota team, a 107-96 defeat that Deron Williams called "embarrassing."

Awaiting the Nets Wednesday night is a date with the Heat (3-1) at AmericanAirlines Arena, the first of a two-game trip through the Sunshine State that ends Friday night in Orlando.

After getting outscored 32-10 in the fourth quarter by a team minus its two best players, the Nets (1-1) know that kind of effort isn't going to cut it versus the defending champions.

"We have to go out with a little chip on our shoulder against Miami," center Brook Lopez said.

But they may have to do it without the one person on their roster who normally would draw the tough task of guarding LeBron James: Gerald Wallace. Nets coach Avery Johnson said Monday that Wallace is day-to-day with a sprained left ankle, and the swingman spent the entire game against the Timberwolves on the Nets' bench in a suit, wearing a boot to keep pressure off his foot.

Wallace sprained it in the waning moments of Brooklyn's season-opening win over Toronto on Saturday night and his presence was sorely missed against the Timberwolves. The 11th-year pro's athleticism and versatility are irreplaceable on a team that yielded 62 points in the paint to the Wolves.

"Historically here, we've always had problems with small lineups," Johnson said. "When they went small at four [power forward], it kind of put us in a bind. No excuses about Gerald Wallace not being here . . . but those are situations why we feel so strongly about Wallace and with him not being here, we've got to find a solution as a staff to figure out what we do in those situations."

Rick Adelman coached Wallace in Sacramento, the franchise that drafted him with the 21st pick in 2001. Now the Timberwolves coach, Adelman marveled at how Wallace has transformed his raw skills into becoming one of the NBA's most versatile defenders.

"He's one of the better ones in the league because he can play more spots," Adelman said. "I watched him play the other night. He guarded the big guy from Toronto [Andrea Bargnani] for part of the game, he guards the guards. He's just got that quickness, he's got the strength and he's got the determination to just get after people.

"So I think he's one of the better guys and it's effort that really pays off for him."

That's why if Wallace isn't healthy and available Wednesday night, the Nets could be staring at their first losing streak of the season. He's that important.

"When Gerald moves over to four, that gives us so many more options offensively and defensively," Johnson said. "It helps our pick-and-roll coverage. Here's a guy that can kind of be a point forward of our team.

"We can get Deron and C.J. [Watson] working off some screens and Joe [Johnson]. It spreads the floor more for Brook to operate. So, when you don't have that, it can be a challenge. But we will have to adjust."

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