Blair playing big for the Mavs

DALLAS -- There isn’t much pretty about DeJuan Blair's game.

That’s why the Mavericks wanted him.

The Mavs needed a banger to complement the finesse players they feature in their frontcourt rotation. Blair can’t shoot like Dirk Nowitzki. He can’t jump like Brandan Wright. But the 6-foot-7, 260-pound Blair sure can bang.

Blair, who signed a one-year, minimum-salary deal with the Mavs after a relatively bitter departure from San Antonio, is playing a bigger role than anticipated because Wright is sidelined while recovering from a fracture in his left shoulder. Blair has seized the opportunity so far, averaging 9.3 points and 7.0 rebounds in 20.3 minutes as a vertically challenged backup center during the Mavs’ first three games.

“I’m just playing DeJuan Blair ball,” said Blair, who has grabbed 4.0 offensive rebounds per game. “It’s hard-nosed, heart, playing hard every time you get out there, energy. Just doing whatever you’ve got to do for the team.

“They don’t have that. That’s me. That’s what coach tells me.”

It’s not just Blair’s wide frame and brute strength that make him unique among the Mavs. It’s his willingness -- eagerness, actually -- to use those assets for a team that was among the league’s worst in rebounding margin last season.

“He brings toughness,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He brings an attitude.”

Added Nowitzki: “He goes in there where it hurts. He's got a big body and pushed people around. That's exactly what we need. We needed a physical presence.”

What happens to Blair’s minutes when Wright returns? That’s not clear at this point, but as far as Blair is concerned, the minutes will take care of themselves if he keeps taking care of the dirty work.

“As long as I play hard and play how I play,” Blair said, “it’s going to speak for itself.”