Wright didn’t make the game-winner. He just logged 23 minutes during a time when the Mavericks desperately needed him in the frontcourt. He subbed for forward Shawn Marion, who did not return after suffing strained right groin with 4:43 left in the third quarter. Later in the game, center Chris Kaman went down with a sprained left ankle and did not return.
Wright -- the same guy that’s had four DNPs in the last six games entering Thursday’s contest -- was the last line of defense in the frontcourt. All he did was drop 16 points on 8-of-12 shooting and grab four rebounds to help the Mavericks escape with the win.
“Kudos to Brandon Wright for being ready to play,” guard Vince Carter said about his fellow North Carolina Tar Heel. “It’s easy for a guy to kind of just be out of it going from starting to playing limited to spot minutes. To come in and not only play big minutes but in crucial times, I think that’s amazing.”
Wright missed just six seconds in the fourth quarter. Eight of his 16 points came in the final quarter, including a key offensive rebound and put back after Darren Collison’s miss with 1:16 left.
“I felt a little rusty at the beginning, but as I played more and more, I started feeling real good,” Wright said. “I started feeling like my old self again. We had guys go down and coach rolled with me all the way through the end, so I had to step up.”
Wright also finished with two blocks, including one during the final seconds of the game. The Suns were down 95-91 with less than 10 seconds left when a 6-foot guard attempted to shoot a 3-pointer over 6-foot-10 Wright. He swatted the ball out of play, which even surprised Wright.
“He pulled up like he was (going to get that shot off),” Wright said. “More power to him.”
While it is the Suns, Wright’s performance follows an embarrassing loss to the Los Angeles Clippers on a back-to-back. The Mavericks were able to show some sort of fight despite the adversity to hold on to their second-half lead.
“He’s a good player and we need him,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We need everyone. But tonight he was going to get the first shot with those bigs on the bench. He responded tremendously well. It was difficult for him because he had to play a 15-minute stretch to end the game, which is difficult to do."