Brandan Wright had one of the games of his life Friday night as the Dallas Mavericks spoiled Jason Terry’s homecoming en route to a 104-94 victory over the Boston Celtics.
Before an American Airlines Center sellout crowd of 20,387, Wright scored a season-high 23 points and grabbed eight rebounds as the Mavs improved their record to 33-36. He also produced the game’s biggest offensive rebound.
After the Celtics chopped a 14-point deficit to five points with 1:51 left in the game, Vince Carter misfired on a 19-footer. Wright, though, hustled and grabbed the rebound, and that led to a 3-pointer by O.J. Mayo, which padded the Mavs’ lead to 100-92 with 1:21 left.
Wright put the exclamation point on this game when he took an alley-oop feed from Shawn Marion and dunked it for the game’s final points. It was that kind of effort from Wright, which is why he received the starting nod from coach Rick Carlisle.
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“I know when Coach calls my name I need to be ready to play,” said Wright, who was 11-of-16 from the field. “This [Boston] team is really quick — a lot of ball-screens, a lot of small lineups, so that’s my game.
“Just like any other game, you’ve got to be opportunistic and get those boards. We hit them hard in the first half and we hit them hard in the second half, and guys have been really playing hard and we want to get some wins on this homestand.”
The Mavs are 1-1 on this six-game homestand, which resumes at 6:30 p.m. Sunday against the Utah Jazz.
Carlisle said starting Wright was the ideal situation.
“It was his kind of game, because there were a lot of small guys out there,” Carlisle said. “That was the reason we started him, and he navigates well in that kind of game without a lot of bruisers in it. He played huge for us.”
The 23 points were two shy of Wright’s career high. And the Mavs needed every one of them.
The Mavs also needed the play of Shawn Marion, who played for the first time after missing the past eight games with a strained left calf. Marion finished with 11 points and 13 rebounds, including seven rebounds in the first period, which ended with the Mavs nursing a 30-21 lead.
“We missed his abilities as a basketball player, for sure,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of our best athletes; his activity is something you can’t duplicate with just any other normal player.
“He’s played [Paul] Pierce a million times, so he has a feel for that. He’s the kind of guy you need to guard [Jeff] Green some of the time when they go small, so we needed him tonight.”
Besides Wright and Marion, Dirk Nowtzki had 22 points and seven rebounds, Carter scored 19 points, and Mayo contributed 10 points and nine assists.
Meanwhile, Wright’s performance was even more powerful considering he was matched against Kevin Garnett.
“It was just another game for me, Hall of Fame status or not,” said Wright, who was playing in his 100th career game with the Mavs. “I respect him as player.
“But I go out there and play hard. I know I can play this game a little bit, too.’’
The Mavs led 55-44 at the half and 79-68 after three quarters. For the most part, they controlled the tempo.
Terry, meanwhile, received a standing ovation when he entered the game for the first time late in the third period. But he only scored eight points and committed three turnovers in 22 minutes.
“All I was worried about was getting a win,” Terry said. “Right now we’re just not getting it done. Give them credit — they spread us out. They used Wright to roll to the basket and he played well.”
On that ovation he received, Terry said: “It was nothing out of the ordinary. It was a good feeling, but again I was solely locked in on the game.
“It was good to see everyone. But again, I’m a Celtic now.”
The Mavs shot 46.3 percent from the field as they prepare for Sunday’s game against Utah.
“Obviously it’s a huge win for us because we’ve got to win as many as we possibly can,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to validate this by coming out on Sunday and doing it again.”