Print and Go Back ESPN.com: Dallas Mavericks [Print without images]

Thursday, April 15, 2010
Haywood not concerned with rookie Blair

By Jeff Caplan

DALLAS -- San Antonio Spurs backup center DeJuan Blair absolutely had his way against the Mavericks' two 7-foot centers, Erick Dampier and Brendan Haywood, Wednesday in the Mavs' regular-season finale victory.

Blair, a rookie out of Pittsburgh, played 36 minutes in place of Tim Duncan -- who along with Manu Ginobili did not suit up -- and put up a monstrous double-double of 27 points and a career-high 23 rebounds. It certainly impressed Mavs coach Rick Carlisle.

"Blair made a case that he should be playing a lot in this series," Carlisle said.

Haywood, who had eight points, 15 rebounds and five blocked shots wasn't as impressed.

"I'm guessing Tim Duncan will be there so I don't think his 36 minutes will be there, so we might not have to do too much different on him," Haywood said. "If he can get 27 and 23 in 20 minutes then we're in trouble."

Haywood has a point. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich isn't big on playing rookies big minutes in playoff games. In fact, Blair's minutes have dwindled in the final two months of the season. He averaged 7.6 points and 6.2 rebounds in 18 minutes this season, but in the final 18 games of the season, he played 18 minutes or more just eight times.