Postgame: Brandan WrightMavs F-C Brandan Wright says he felt good in his first game back from injury, looks forward to bringing his athleticism to the team and more.
DALLAS — No Dirk Nowitzki. No Rick Carlisle. No problem.
Returning to Big D for the start of a three-game homestand, things appeared to be leaning in the Dallas Mavericks’ favor.
After falling to Sacramento and Golden State to complete their four-game road stretch, the Mavericks returned to American Airlines Center ready to make up ground against three teams below .500. Meanwhile, 26-year-old big man Brandan Wright readied himself for his season debut Saturday night as the Mavs welcomed in the Milwaukee Bucks, adding his athleticism and 6-foot-10 frame to a team sorely in need of an interior presence.
However, with Nowitzki and Carlisle sidelined due to illnesses, the Dallas team faced yet another challenge as it took the court without the 11-time All-Star and championship-winning head coach. Still, even without the services of Carlisle and Nowitzki, the Mavericks (14-10) would have no problem improving to 8-1 all time in “Seats for Soldiers” games, as the home team treated members of the military to a show with a 106-93 victory.
“We were just loose tonight,” Wright said after the win. “You know, with Coach [Carlisle] not being here and Dirk not being here, all we could do was play hard. We had a huge team effort. We kind of slouched around the fourth quarter, but we dominated the first three.”
Looking to hold ex-Mav O.J. Mayo in check while trying to replicate a 91-83 victory in Milwaukee back on Nov. 9, the Mavericks handed the coaching responsibilities over to defensive coordinator Monte Mathis. Meanwhile, second-year standout Jae Crowder was inserted into the starting lineup, sliding four-time All-Star Shawn Marion from small forward to power forward in place of Nowitzki.
The Mavs then got off to a fast start in front of more than 100 wounded service members from Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio and other troops on reserve in the Metroplex, as point guard Jose Calderon caught fire from long range prior to Wright entering the game with 6:02 left in the opening period. The lead guard and high-flyer then boosted the Mavericks to their highest-scoring first quarter of the season, leading 38-26 after 12 minutes of play.
After Marion connected on the Mavs’ seventh triple of the night from the corner to open the second stanza, the separation on the scoreboard steadily swelled. Wright took matters from there, scoring on an array of moves in the interior and showing no signs of rust after being sidelined since sustaining a small, non-displaced fracture in his left shoulder during practice on Oct. 8.
Postgame: Vince CarterMavs G-F Vince Carter weighs in on his performance against the Bucks with Dirk out, Brandan Wright's comeback, Samuel Dalembert's status and more.
“It was great to see him out there,” Mathis said of Wright’s return. “His athleticism on defense, on offense and all those in-between shots that we know he’s really good at, he showed us that again. He did a great job with the game plan and the schemes on defense. He’s just an experienced guy, so it’s great to have him back.”
The Mavs then sprinted into the halftime break with a 59-41 advantage as Calderon’s 16 first-half points led the way.
Connecting on 7 of 16 from 3-point range in the first two quarters, the Mavs’ 48.9 percent from the field bettered the Bucks’ 38.5 percent. Led by Marion’s nine rebounds, the Mavericks also held a 24-23 edge on the glass at the midway mark while forcing 11 Milwaukee turnovers.
With Calderon back on the attack to open the second half, the Mavs continued to see the margin between the two teams widen early in the third period. Crowder’s score to put the Mavericks up 30, 75-45, then matched the team’s largest lead of the season,which was first produced against the Los Angeles Lakers back on Nov. 5.
The Mavs didn’t stop there, pushing the lead to as much as 34 before entering the fourth with a 93-61 advantage after sixth man Vince Carter’s 3-pointer to close the third quarter.
The two teams then finished the game with their reserves playing the rest of the way as the Bucks (5-19) sliced into their deficit with the final verdict no longer in doubt.
Playing just over 18 minutes, Wright led the way with 19 points on 9-of-10 shooting, grabbing down six rebounds to boot in his debut.
“The production was good. I’m still a ways off from where I want to be at physically and more conditioning, but it was a good start,” Wright modestly explained. “I’m probably about 65 or 70 percent as in shape as I want to be, so I’ve still got a ways to go. But everything else felt fine.
“It’s just the first game. You know, 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.”
Scoring 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting and resting the entire fourth quarter was Calderon, who also connected on 4 of 6 from behind the arc. Meanwhile, Carter pitched in 15 points and nine assists off the bench and Marion recorded a double-double with 13 points and 12 rebounds. Center DeJuan Blair’s 11 points made it five Mavericks in double figures, while leading scorer Monta Ellis totaled just seven points on 3-of-7 shooting.
“You know, we went out there and did what we needed to do and got a win,” Marion said. “We hope [Carlisle and Nowitzki] get healthy, but at the same time we’ve got a lot of guys capable of doing a lot of things on the floor and we went out there and showed it.”
“Everybody did their job tonight, and that was the most important thing for us. I think it was just a team effort and everyone understood we just needed to stay within the flow of the offense,” Carter added.
John Henson led the Bucks with 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting to go with 13 rebounds, while the Dallas defense held Mayo to just four points on 1-of-6 shooting. The Mavs also finished the night outshooting the Bucks, 47.7 percent to 44.4 percent, in addition to a 45-42 rebounding edge. Both teams also committed 16 turnovers.
Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Wednesday against the Memphis Grizzlies. The Mavs lead the season series 1-0 after a 111-89 home victory on Nov. 2. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.
DALLAS — Returning from a 2-2 road trip that concluded in heartbreaking fashion, the Dallas Mavericks will take the court Saturday night eager to treat their hometown fans to a show.
Falling to a 95-93 defeat to the Golden State Warriors on Wednesday following Stephen Curry’s game-winning jumper with 1.5 seconds remaining, the Mavericks (13-10) would disappointing be unable to bounce back from a 112-97 loss in Sacramento two nights prior. And after watching seemingly helplessly as an 18-point lead dwindled away against the Warriors, the Mavs will try to take out their anger on the Milwaukee Bucks while beginning a three-game homestand.
“You know, I always like to be a little positive about it, so I think the best thing to do is we’ve got to concentrate on the next three (games) and take care of home,” starting point guard Jose Calderon explained after a disappointing end to the Mavs’ road trip.
“We’ve got to keep working,” he added. “I think we’ve just got to go to the next page. We’ve got three games in eight days, so we’ve got time to practice and time to get better.”
However, the Mavericks admit that they will once again have their hands full Saturday night, looking to replicate a 91-83 victory in Milwaukee back on Nov. 9 for the first road win of the season. The Mavs also catch the Bucks (5-18) on the second night of a back-to-back, after the Milwaukee team suffered a disappointing 91-90 home loss Friday to Chicago. And after seeing ex-Mav O.J. Mayo explode for 28 points on 11-of-20 shooting and Caron Butler add 19 points of his own to go with 13 rebounds in the first meeting between the two teams, the Mavs acknowledge that they will have to make a stand in order to avoid a third straight loss.
“Look, they’ve got the same record as Sacramento, and Sacramento kicked our (tails),” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle confessed. “These guys beat Chicago in Chicago the other night. They’re a very capable team and they’re well-coached, so we’ve got to play.”
Fortunately for the Mavs’ sake, they could receive just the spark they need as big man Brandan Wright hopes to make his long-awaited season debut.
Sidelined since sustaining a small, non-displaced fracture in his left shoulder during practice on Oct. 8, the high-flying Wright will now try to pick back up where he left off at last season before resigning with the team this summer. He’ll also attempt to once again emerge as a difference maker along the frontline as the Mavs look to improve to 5-0 this season at home against Eastern Conference opponents.
“It’s the perfect opportunity,” Wright said Friday after returning to full-contact drills one week prior. “Three games at home in eight days and a lot of practice time, so I think this will be a good chance for me to get going.
“I just want to go out there and help this team win and do what I do best. That’s what it comes down to, and then it will help our paint scoring out, getting myself playing above the rim and just getting another piece that can help this team elevate.”
Note: The Mavericks return to American Airlines Center on Saturday against O.J. Mayo and the Milwaukee Bucks. The Mavs lead the season series 1-0 after a 91-83 victory in Milwaukee back on Nov. 9. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.
|Khris Middleton, F||29||3-7||2-4||2-2||0||1||1||2||0||0||1||3||-11||10|
|Ersan Ilyasova, F||18||0-2||0-0||2-2||1||4||5||0||2||0||3||2||-20||2|
|John Henson, C||28||8-17||0-0||2-4||2||11||13||1||2||2||5||1||-3||18|
|O.J. Mayo, G||15||1-6||0-1||2-2||0||0||0||2||1||0||2||1||-15||4|
|Brandon Knight, G||23||7-16||1-6||1-1||0||2||2||1||2||0||1||1||-26||16|
|Jae Crowder, F||34||2-9||0-4||4-4||1||2||3||2||2||0||2||2||7||8|
|Shawn Marion, F||22||5-13||1-3||2-2||3||9||12||1||1||1||1||3||11||13|
|DeJuan Blair, C||28||5-8||0-0||1-2||2||7||9||1||0||0||4||4||11||11|
|Monta Ellis, G||23||3-7||0-0||1-2||0||3||3||5||0||0||3||2||14||7|
|Jose Calderon, G||23||7-10||4-6||0-0||0||1||1||1||1||0||1||1||19||18|