- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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DALLAS – Brandan Wright doesn’t have to worry about whether he’ll get off the bench anymore.
Heck, Wright has been so impressive recently that coach Rick Carlisle is concerned about managing his minutes to keep from wearing down the high-flying center/forward.
“He’s had a terrific run here,” Carlisle said after Wright played a major role in the Mavericks’ win Friday night over the Cavaliers. “The thing with him is I’ve just got to make sure we’re playing him in the right spurts of minutes, he doesn’t get too gassed.”
Wright’s run just happens to coincide with the Mavs getting hot. Over the last six games, five of which the Mavs have won, Wright has averaged 11.8 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.8 blocks in 26 minutes per game. He’s shooting a sky-high 68.8 percent from the floor during that span.
Efficiency hasn’t been an issue for Wright since he arrived in Dallas with a two-year, minimum-salary deal before last season. Earning Carlisle’s trust has been.
The 6-foot-10, 210-pound Wright leads the Mavs by far with a 21.4 PER, a stats formula that measures efficiency, but his struggles rebounding and defending physical players have resulted in him bouncing in and out of the rotation. Wright has worked his way back in on a regular basis and has responded with arguably the best run of his NBA career.
“Anybody can get in a nice groove when they play a lot of minutes in a row and kind of know when they’re going back in and that they’re going to get opportunities,” Wright said. “That’s a big-time comfort level. It can get tough being on the other side of the stick, because I’ve been there before.
“I’m just happy that we’re winning games right now. I’m taking it day by day and game by game, just playing my minutes the best I can.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ win over the Cavs:
1. Return of Rodman: Dirk Nowitzki has suddenly become a rebounding machine. He has 11 rebounds in the last three games, the first time he’s posted double-digit board totals in three straight games this season.
Nowitzki got off to a bizarre start against the Cavs, grabbing six rebounds but failing to score in the first quarter. His first bucket came on a putback at the 10:51 mark of the second quarter.
“In the first half, I felt like (Dennis) Rodman,” cracked Nowitzki, who ended up with 13 points and 11 rebounds. “Couldn’t make a shot, just out there chasing rebounds.”
2. Crowder comes up big: Rookie Jae Crowder grabbed a personal-best eight rebounds in Tuesday’s win over Milwaukee, then blew that total away against the Cavaliers. Crowder snatched a game-high 14 boards Friday night.
“At halftime, Trix came up to me and said, ‘You’ve got to bring something else,’” Crowder said, referring to injured forward Shawn Marion. “Whatever that meant, I took it that I’ve got to bring something. I guess rebounding was one of the things I really focused on.”
Crowder is filling Marion’s role as the starting small forward who plays stretches at power forward when Nowitzki rests. Crowder played a lot of power forward against the Cavs, with Carlisle opting to play a smaller, quicker lineup. At 6-foot-6, Crowder is at a distinct size disadvantage as a power forward.
“It’s something I have to be aware of every possession,” Crowder said. “I’m taking on the challenge right now.”
3. Night to remember for rookie: Chris Wright, the D-League call-up who signed a 10-day deal Wednesday, made his NBA debut in the last 41 seconds. He got his first NBA bucket on a driving layup with 9.4 seconds left.
After the buzzer, Darren Collison grabbed the ball and passed it to Wright, making sure the rookie would have a keepsake.
“I’ll give it to my mom so I don’t lose it,” Wright said, “and just get back in the gym tomorrow.”
19hMatt Walks, ESPN.com
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15dMatt Walks, ESPN.com
24dMatt Walks, ESPN.com