Tyson Chandler tied a franchise record of grabbing 20-plus rebounds in his third consecutive game as the Knicks defeated the woeful Pistons at the Garden last night, 99-85.
It was the first time since Willis Reed in the 1969-70 season that a Knicks player had accomplished 20+ boards in three straight games.
"It hasn't been done in a long time....since Willis Reed," said Chandler. "Whenever your mentioned in the same breath or accomplish he has...it is a tall task."
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks with 27 points, but got the biggest kick of all when he saw Chandler wearing his beloved Ravnes hat during the post game interview. Chandler, a 49ers fan, was forced to wear a Ravens Super Bowl champion hat, payment of a lost bet with Anthony.
"That made my day. You just don't know," said Anthony.
Despite having his fun over his winning bet against Chandler, Anthony knows what a hard feat his fellow All Star teammate just accomplished.
"That is incredible...three straight games with 20 plus rebounds, " said Anthony. "It is very hard to do so. You have to take your hat off to Tyson for that effort."
After being named to the All Star team a few weeks ago, Chandler did little to validate spot in the games following the annoucement.
Chandler attempted only five shots in the next three games and averaged 7.1 rebounds in those contests. Knicks Coach Mike Woodson decided he had seen enough of his center's poor play following the Knicks 106-104 victory against the Hawks last Sunday. Despite playing 36 minutes, Chandler was a ghost on the floor grabbing only three rebounds while scoring only two points that evening.
“When you’re voted as an All-Star, I mean that’s how you’ve got to play each time you step out on the floor,” said Woodson. "There’s no excuse. I just didn’t think he was playing at that level, especially at the offensive end. He probably thought he was. But I wanted him to play with more pace, more pep. That was my assessment as the coach. When I see slippage, it’s my job to address that.”
Just like how Iman Shumpert responded well to Woodson benching him for his poor defense the other night, Chandler responded to his coaches challenge in All Star fashion. Woodson said he hold players accountable since the day he arrived here. That message has clearly gotten across to the rest of the locker room, especially Chandler.
“Throughout the season, mentally, he lit a fire under me,” said Chandler. “ (Coach Woodson) called me into his office and said I needed to start playing like an All-Star and the last thing I wanted was people questioning that. I had focus after that. Sometimes you need that…a little push.”
The Knicks just pushed themselves to their first 5-0 homestand since 1996, and it's the best record the team has had this late in the season since the 96-97 campaign. Chandler's monster games on the boards suddenly gives the Knicks one of the best frontcourts in the NBA.
“The last three games…it makes my job easy,” said Amar’e Stoudemire. “He is playing well. He is grabbing every rebound and playing great defensively.”
The signing of Chandler has clearly been one of the best moves that Knicks GM Glen Gurnwald made since he took the job from Donnie Walsh. If you ask many Dallas Mavericks fans, they would have never won the championship if Chandler was not part of the team. The way Chandler and the Maverciks are playing now, Mavs owner Mark Cuban has to have huge regret not resigning.
While Carmelo Anthony maybe the MVP in the eyes of many around the league, Pistons coach Lawerence Frank has seen enough of the Knicks lately to voice his own opinion who the MVP of the team is.
"To me, Tyson Chandler is their MVP,” Frank said.