DALLAS – After coming off a curl, Suns guard Eric Bledsoe had a clear path to the basket for a game-tying layup with about 10 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Until Mavericks center Brandan Wright came flying from the other side of the floor to block a shot that ranks really high on the list of the biggest plays of his career.
“It’s probably No. 1,” Wright said after the Mavs punched their playoff tickets with a 101-98 win Saturday night.
And this was probably the most meaningful performance of Wright’s six-year career.
Wright, whose playing time fluctuates based on matchups and coach Rick Carlisle’s whims, posted his second double-double of the season with 12 points and 11 rebounds in a season-high 32 minutes. He also came up with three blocks, including the one that potentially prevented overtime.
“Man, he was great,” Monta Ellis said. “He got a lot of rebounds that we needed. He got some big blocked shots that we needed. He played a heck of a game.”
This wasn’t a game suited for Mavs starting center Samuel Dalembert. The Suns play at too fast of a pace to go with a traditional big man. But that style is suited for Wright, a phenomenal athlete who isn’t as physical as most centers.
“Every night, I feel like I’m needed,” said Wright, who averaged 13.0 points and 7.3 rebounds in three games against the Suns, well above his norms. “I felt good about tonight. I felt good about our chances. I already had two good games against those guys, so I didn’t see why he wouldn’t go to me. I’m glad he went to me. It paid off for us.”