Lost in the heroics from Vince Carter, the big shots from Monta Ellis and the 18 points from Dirk Nowitzki on Saturday at American Airlines Center, Dallas Mavericks center Samuel Dalembert quietly had his best game of this first round series against No. 1 seed San Antonio.
Dalembert, a 12-year veteran with 21 games of postseason experience, finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in the Mavs’ 109-108 Game 3 victory.
The 32-year-old joked that he hasn’t had a playoff game like that since he was playing in Philadelphia. That was at least five years ago.
"It’s been a long time," said Dalembert, who played 25 minutes. "I had to make things happen. My main focus has always been to fulfill my role, get second-chance opportunities, crash the boards a lot. That’s always been my thing."
Dalembert had nine points, nine rebounds and two blocks in the first half alone. He finished with four points, seven rebounds and a block in Game 2 and two points, eight rebounds and a block in Game 1.
"Sam was real active and he just has got to keep doing what he’s doing," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "When his activity is like this, he’s rebounding it and he’s got a presence at the rim, it makes such a big difference for us. We need him to do that."
But his biggest contribution might have actually come at the free throw line. With 43 seconds remaining and the Mavs trailing 102-104, Dalembert was fouled while trying to put back an offensive rebound. The 6-11, 250-pounder calmly buried both.
"That was huge," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I always say that when he’s active and rebounds, he’s hyping up the crowd, when he’s into the game, where a good team."