Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Haywood, Wright to rejoin Mavs
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- Mavericks centers Brendan Haywood and Brandan Wright participated in the morning shootaround and are expected to play Tuesday night as Dallas looks to snap a three-game skid against the woeful Washington Wizards.
The Mavs have not had their three-headed center position intact since March 3, a span of six games that saw Dallas go 2-4.
Wright sustained a concussion on March 2 at New Orleans and Haywood, the Mavs' starter all season, sprained his left ankle in the opening minute of a loss at Oklahoma City on March 5.
"We miss him a lot," coach Rick Carlisle said of Haywood. "We basically missed him for five games and we struggled. It's a case where the way our team is structured, and it's the same as it was last year, if we're missing one guy that's a key guy it can really affect our entire thing. He's very important and Brandan is very important to us."
Dallas, desperate to turn around a 2-7 stretch since returning from the All-Star break, will be happy to have its center rotation back on the floor against Wizards big men, 7-foot starting center JaVale McGee and 6-11 Andray Blatche.
Wright slowly emerged as a key reserve for the Mavs, providing energy and above-the-rim play after being seldom-used in the first month or so of the season. Wright's ascension has dropped Ian Mahinmi's minutes, but Mahinmi, who actually leads the three with a 6.3-points scoring average, made a strong case for himself over the last week as the fill-in starting center to see more floor time.
"So we get some of our warriors back and we'll be OK," forward Dirk Nowitzki said.
Dallas, having fallen to 23-20 and seventh in the Western Conference, now awaits only the return of guard Delonte West, who had proven to be a valuable addition as a perimeter defender as well as backing up Jason Kidd at point guard.
West fractured his right ringer in a game Feb. 15 and soon after had surgery to insert stabilizing pins. He will be evaluated at the end of the week and is hopeful the pins can be removed soon, which would pave the way for his return.