For DeJuan Blair, game three of the Western Conference Semifinals was a tale of two halves. The first half he was a game changer, providing instant energy off the bench and overpowering Louis Amundson and even Amare Stoudemire in the paint. In the second half, Blair seemed almost nonexistent. He finished the game with six points and six rebounds, going three for three from the field in nearly 11 minutes worth of play.
Blair first entered the game for Tim Duncan with 45 seconds left in the first. He would stay in and start the second in place of Timmy, and right away, Blair used his big body to overpower Amundson and make a nice move scoring on a lay-up. On the very next suns possession, Blair blocked a Leandro Barbosa shot giving the Spurs possession and eventually leading to a Manu Ginobili three pointer.
After the Manu triple, the Suns made there way down the court. Blair ended up on an isolation play with Grant Hill who took a jump shot right over Blair getting the easy two points. Two Spurs possessions later, Blair muscled his way into the paint, overpowering Stoudemire and scoring two points on a well contested lay-up. The Suns tried to answer quickly, but Blair got the rebound off a missed Dudley three, then passed it to George Hill who made a pull up transition two. Blair was replaced by Duncan with 6:55 left in the half.
Blair finished the first half with four points, four rebounds and one block in five minutes and 52 seconds of play. He also played great interior defense, allowing the Suns to make only one basket in the paint while he was on the floor. But Blair was unable to keep up his intensity in the second half.
Duncan was replaced by Blair with 40 seconds left in the third, and started the fourth. Right away Blair was attacked by the extremely fast Suns guards. Goran Dragic, who played the game of his life, pump faked Blair, and finished with an easy lay-up. Two Suns possessions later, Barbosa used his incredible speed to fly right Blair and finish with an un contested lay-up. Blair came out with 9:12 left in the game.
Blair came in again with 1:35 left to play, but by that time the game was out of reach. He scored another lay-up off a Garrett Temple assist, and collected his only offensive rebound of the night leading to a George Hill three. Blair scored 2 points and collected two rebounds, playing four minutes and 48 seconds in the second half.
If the Spurs are to avoid getting swept, then Blair is going to have to play tough interior defense like he did in the first half. He’s showen an ability to out muscle many of the Suns big men. Let’s hope the pressure of his first elimination game doesn’t tamper with his confidence.