Two days later, Blair came up big.
Blair banged for six points and nine rebounds and drew a key charge in 17 minutes during Sunday’s 93-91 win over the Sacramento Kings. It was the most playing time in almost a month for Blair, who got double-digit minutes only twice in the previous 11 games. He didn’t take off his warmups in two of those games, including Friday night’s win over the Los Angeles Lakers.
But the Mavs turned to Blair when starting center Samuel Dalembert got in early foul trouble Sunday, and the vertically challenged backup big man earned extended minutes against Kings star center DeMarcus Cousins.
“I just liked the way he was playing, so we stuck with him,” said Carlisle, who limited Brandan Wright to six minutes when the lefty leaper struggled to get going in the game following his 23-point, 10-of-10 masterpiece. “[Blair] delivered for us. He really did, and we needed it. We needed every rebound, we needed every point, we needed every hit he put on somebody.”
Carlisle praised Blair for staying ready despite sporadic playing time, a testament to the fifth-year pro’s professionalism.
“This ain’t nothing new to me, man,” said Blair, who fell out of the San Antonio Spurs’ rotation late last season. “You know how it is. It ain’t nothing new to DeJuan to stay ready. I don’t worry about minutes or anything. You know I’m a team player. Whatever they need me to do, I’ll do it.”