Samuel Dalembert had no idea he would play 19 minutes Saturday night against Golden State.
But the veteran big man was ready when Milwaukee Bucks coach Jim Boylan called his name.
Dalembert had not played at all in the previous two games, against Cleveland and Philadelphia. Given his chance, he contributed four points, six rebounds and two blocks to the Bucks' 109-102 victory over the Warriors.
"I'm glad he got a chance to get out there and get up and down," Boylan said. "I've played him before but only for a few minutes.
"Sam's a good veteran NBA player. When he gets out there for extended minutes, I expect him to perform well and produce. That's what he did the other night for us, so we'll see where things go from here."
The 6-foot-11, 250-pound Dalembert has the size and strength to battle against some of the physical big men in the league.
So it's quite possible he will be called on again Tuesday as the Bucks go against Greg Monroe, promising rookie Andre Drummond, Jason Maxiell and the front line of the Detroit Pistons. Milwaukee is 0-2 against Detroit and trying to figure out a winning formula against its Central Division rival.
"We've got to match their physicality," Boylan said after the Bucks' practice session Monday. "They've hurt us with some of their penetration.
"We're trying to be a more aggressive defensive team in our pick-and-roll coverages. But first things first is to take care of our inside presence defensively. We've got to make them a little more uncomfortable.
"They seem to be able to get to where they want to go inside and get good post-up position. And they're skilled players. You can't let them have touch after touch after touch on the block."
Monroe is averaging 20 points and 10.5 rebounds in the two games against the Bucks.
Drummond had eight points, 11 rebounds and four blocks in the last meeting, a 103-87 Pistons victory in Milwaukee on Jan. 11.
It has been a disappointing season for the 31-year-old Dalembert, who has not played due to coach's decision (DNP-CD) a team-leading 20 times.
Dalembert played 15 minutes in the middle two quarters Saturday and was on the floor for the final 7-plus minutes in the third period as the Bucks surged to a 12-point lead.
"I just went out there and brought the energy and started to be all over the place," Dalembert said.
Dalembert also unveiled a hook shot late in the third quarter.
"It's one of the things I've been working on before the games," Dalembert said. "I did the sky hook and it went in."
Backup center Ekpe Udoh played 9 minutes against the Warriors and rookie power forward John Henson did not play at all as Boylan opted to go with Dalembert.
"You've got to stay ready," Dalembert said. "Sometimes things happen and they need you out there. You just have to be able to get out there and get it done.
"You have to keep working for your minutes. Every game I'm always ready. I did my stuff, my cardios. I got some minutes (Saturday) and I tried to take advantage of that.
"You've got to produce and be a factor out there for the team so we can win."
One of the first things Boylan did when he took over as coach Jan. 8 was to install Henson as the primary backup to Ersan Ilyasova at power forward. But Henson's minutes have declined over the past four games.
The 6-11 Henson played just 7 minutes at Portland, 12 minutes against Philadelphia and 7 at Cleveland before not playing against the Warriors.
"I'm not making any declarations at this point," Boylan said. "I'm just going to play it the way I feel.
"John is a rookie. People have to remember that. He's got a lot of growing to do, a lot of learning to do.
"He's been good. We've been very pleased with where he's at. But there are times when he's a rookie."
Busy week: The Bucks (23-19) get another chance to go five games over .500 when they play the Pistons. They were in the same position on Dec. 30 on their last visit to the Palace of Auburn Hills but lost, 96-94, when Tayshaun Prince sank two free throws late in the game.
That started a four-game skid that ultimately led to the departure of Scott Skiles and his replacement by Boylan.
Milwaukee returns home to play the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night before traveling to New York to meet the Knicks on Friday night. The Bucks complete four games in five days with a home game against Orlando on Saturday night.