Brandan Wright doesn’t want anyone getting overly excited about his performance in his first game of the season.
But the Dallas Mavericks’ center/power forward promised it was only the beginning of better things to come.
“It’s just the first game,” Wright said after collecting a game-high 19 points in only 19 minutes during Saturday’s 106-93 win over the Milwaukee Bucks. “I’ve got a long ways to go. We’ve got some good practice time coming up, and I should be even better on Wednesday.”
Wright scored 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting in just 19 minutes in the Oct. 7 preseason opener against New Orleans. The next day in practice, he suffered a small, non-displaced fracture of his left shoulder and hadn’t played until Saturday’s game against the Bucks.
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The Mavs missed the athletic ability and activity around the basket that Wright brings to the court.
“It’s another guy who can pick and roll and kind of get in the paint, kind of like the way DeJuan [Blair] does,” forward Vince Carter said. “His ability to rebound, run the floor — he’s very athletic, he can finish at the rim, and he has a high release on his shot — so it’s hard to block.
“He’s been here a while, so he understands the offense. It’s not like he was kind of learning the offense and we tried to run stuff that he didn’t feel comfortable with.”
Wright converted 9 of 10 shots against the Bucks. His impact was even more important since Dirk Nowitzki missed the game with an illness, as did coach Rick Carlisle.
“He’s a little bit quicker off the ground than a lot of [power forwards] in this league and a lot of [centers],” assistant coach Monte Mathis said of Wright. “So whether we’re playing him at [power forward] or [center], he’s a good roller, but he’s also a pretty good 15-foot shooter, so we were doing a little bit of everything with him.”
The 6-foot-10 Wright acknowledged that the main ingredient he wanted to carry into the game against the Bucks was his aggression. It’s a formula he plans to duplicate at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday when the Mavs (14-10) host the Memphis Grizzlies (10-12) at American Airlines Center.
“Physically I was fine,” Wright said. “I’ve got to get in better shape. You don’t want to come back and try to ease your way back into it. I’ve got a ways to go with that, but overall I’ll take it.”
Samuel Dalembert’s game has gone south, but the slumping center has the support of his teammates during his most challenging time of the season.
“When you go through slumps and go through tough times, I think the best thing for you is just have the support of your team,” Carter said. “Everybody goes through rough times, so we’re going to stick with him.”
Dalembert, who is 3 of 16 from the field in his last five games, didn’t even play in Saturday’s win over the Bucks. It was the first time he hadn’t played in a game all season.
For now, the Mavs prefer to look back to Nov. 18-22 when Dalembert manufactured 32 points, 36 rebounds, six blocks and was 12 of 17 from the field in wins over Philadelphia, Houston and Utah, and they hope he can recapture that production.