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Gerald Wallace earns a rest with his tough defensive play for Nets

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant grabs a

Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant grabs a loose ball against Gerald Wallace as Deron Williams watches in the second half of a game in Los Angeles. (Nov. 20, 2012) Credit: AP

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Gerald Wallace was pretty hard on himself in the aftermath of Tuesday night's loss to the Lakers.

"I feel like trash right now," the Nets veteran small forward said.

That was partly due to the Nets' coughing up a six-point lead they held midway through the fourth quarter, but mostly, Wallace was talking about his body and his overall game.

Wallace is still rounding into form and hasn't quite been himself since returning from a six-game absence due to a sprain and bone bruise in his left ankle. So with the Nets in the midst of back-to-back games, Avery Johnson decided to give him a rest against the Warriors last night in the Nets' final game of their three-game West Coast swing.

Keith Bogans started in his place.

"No setbacks," Johnson said. "He just needs another day and hopefully we can get him that extra day because we are going to embark on three games in four nights again and basically we are in a stretch of nine games in 13 days with the start of this trip.

"Hopefully, we can get him an extra day and that's more for precautionary reasons."

Wallace's importance to this team can't be stressed enough. It was apparent once again just how much of an influence he brings, particularly with his aggressive style and defensive prowess.

In just his second game back, Wallace was all over the court, stuffing the stat sheet in other ways than scoring. He had five steals, three blocks and two assists to go along with seven points and was key in helping the Nets climb out of an early 10-point first-quarter hole.

Still, he's not pleased with his shot, lamenting the wide-open looks he's failed to knock down against the Kings Sunday and versus the Lakers.

"I'm trying to do as much as I can to help the team," Wallace said, "and do whatever I can out there on the court. I know for us to be successful, especially with scorers like Brook [Lopez], Deron [Williams] and Joe [Johnson] out there. I've got to be able to make those shots and right now I'm not making them.

"My legs aren't into my shots and I'm hurting us offensively. So, I've got to clean that up and figure out a way to help these guys offensively."

Defensively, though, he's already started re-establishing himself. Wallace refused to let the Lakers simply breeze through the lane and get easy dunks or layups.

He contested Dwight Howard's shot on any chance he got, even wrapping him up whenever he did foul the Lakers' big man.

"That's what coach emphasizes a whole lot," Wallace said. "He either wants a blocked shot, a charge or a hard foul, and that's something we have to do more of. We have to let everybody know that our paint isn't that easy. You can't just dribble out in the middle and get an easy basket. So we've got to protect our paint.

"This is the NBA. If you force teams to shoot jump shots all night, then your chances of winning are pretty good. If you let them get layups all night, then it's going to be hard for you defensively."

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