Brazilian-born Leandro Barbosa had yet to make much of an impact through his first three games after signing a 10-day contract with the Phoenix Suns, but that all changed Monday night in New York.
The 31-year-old combo guard got a burst of energy in the fourth quarter against the New York Knicks, scoring 14 of the team’s 24 points, helping the Suns erase a seven-point deficit and force overtime.
The Suns eventually fell 98-96 at the end of the extra period, but they wouldn’t have made it that far without Barbosa’s spectacular fourth quarter. Looking like his old self, he seemed to be able to get the the rim at will as the game wound down in regulation. He made three driving layups in the period, and even drew two fouls, converting those into four free throws — including two that tied the game and sent it into overtime.
The 11-year veteran, who spent his first seven seasons in Phoenix, finished with 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting to go with three rebounds and two assists in 30 minutes of action.
With emerging star point guard Eric Bledsoe out at least four-to-six weeks after getting surgery on a torn meniscus in his knee, Barbosa just made his best case to get signed to another 10-day contract — or possibly for the rest of the season.
Before putting on a Suns jersey last Wednesday against Minnesota, the 2003 first round draft pick hadn’t stepped foot on an NBA court since tearing his ACL in February 2013 while with the Boston Celtics. He was playing professional ball in Brazil until Phoenix gave him a call and signed him to a short-term contract.