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Phoenix Suns’ Brandan Wright makes impact in starting lineup

With starting center Alex Len on the bench (again) with an ankle injury, Phoenix Suns head coach Jeff Hornacek turned to a player who hasn’t had his name announced in the starting lineup in almost two years Sunday night.

The move paid off.

Brandan Wright made his first start in a Suns uniform, and only the 48th of his career, in a 102-89 win over the hapless New York Knicks at US Airways Center. The veteran scored 18 points on 7-of-8 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds in 37 minutes of playing time.

“Just play basketball,” Wright answered when asked what his goal was against the Knicks. “Play the way I usually play and help this team win.”

Wright did just that, scoring six of his season-high point output in the decisive third quarter when the Suns outscored New York 28-18. The former North Carolina Tar Heel scored six of his seven baskets in the paint Sunday.

“He’s feeling more comfortable when he gets the ball in the lane, just to go up and shoot it like he used to do it,” Hornacek said. “He made a few of those. He made a big three-point play for us later on in the game that helped seal it.

“Just his activity of rolling to the basket, they have to honor that.”

Wright could be called on again to take a spot in the starting five, with Len on the mend from a second ankle injury in the last six weeks. If he is, he says he’ll be ready to go.

“Whatever I can do to help this team win,” he said.

Phoenix hosts the New Orleans Pelicans Thursday night in the final game of their five-game homestand.