Larry Sanders stood tall in the lane, hands held high, and didn't flinch when Utah guard Gordon Hayward drove for a potential game-winning basket late in regulation Monday night.
Sanders didn't foul either. Playing with five fouls, Sanders blocked Hayward's attempt and the Milwaukee Bucks went on to a 109-108 overtime victory against the Jazz.
It was another pivotal moment for the Bucks center, a player making great strides in his third NBA season.
"Come to the basket and Larry is there," Bucks coach Jim Boylan said. "That's what he's done for us all year. He makes those plays.
"In my NBA experience, I look at Larry and I see a bit of Tyson Chandler. When I was in Chicago, Tyson was very similar, able to make a big play at the end of the game, a big block or a big tip-in.
"Larry has a lot of the same qualities."
Chandler has moved on to the New York Knicks and was named the league's defensive player of the year last season, after winning a championship with Dallas in 2011.
As recently as last summer, it seemed improbable that anyone would be comparing Sanders to Chandler.
But the 6-foot-11 Sanders is now the league's leading shot blocker and has posted at least one block in 40 consecutive games. That's the franchise's longest run since Elmore Smith had a 61-game run during the 1975-'76 season.
And Sanders is making a strong run at the league's most improved player award.
Sanders finished with 16 rebounds and six blocks against Utah. But even more impressive was how he played with five fouls and stayed on the floor late in regulation and for the 5-minute overtime period.
"I'm just learning, talking with the refs and communicating with them, seeing where the foul is," Sanders said. "Whether it's the body or swiping down.
"I'm just trying to keep my hands high, praying they don't blow that whistle."
Bucks' Larry Sanders has defensive attitude
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Mar 6