You would have expected Tyson Chandler to be in a better mood than he was after collecting 20 rebounds for the third straight game to tie a Knicks record last achieved by Willis Reed.
But after a 99-85 victory over the Pistons at the Garden last night, Chandler was grumbling as he got dressed and put on a Ravens Super Bowl hat, his penance for losing a bet to Carmelo Anthony.
“This is not my team,” said Chandler, a California native. “This is Carmelo’s team. But they won, so congratulations to all their fans.”
Congratulations are in order for Chandler, too, after becoming the first Knick to collect 20 rebounds in three-straight games since Reed last did it December 1969.
“It hasn’t been done in a long time, since Willis Reed,” Chandler said. “Whenever you’re mentioned in the same breath and you’re able to accomplish a record that he has, it’s a tall task,” Chandler said.
Against the Pistons, Chandler had 11 boards at the half and began being serenaded by the chants of “Ty-son ... Chand-ler” when he collected his 19th at 7:01 of the fourth quarter. His 20th was grabbed off a missed free throw by Will Bynum with 5:49 remaining.
“That’s just effort and a commitment of wanting to get every rebound that comes off the rim,” Woodson said. “He’s done it three straight games, so I’m expecting a fourth game.”
Much has been made of a talk Chandler had with Woodson before the Jan. 30 game against Orlando, during which the Knicks coach challenged his center “to play complete basketball.”
Chandler admitted “it lit a little fire under me.” Perhaps it’s no coincidence Chandler’s improved numbers under the glass have come in games where Amar’e Stoudemire has shown flashes of his young self. Stoudemire, who scored 20 points last night, has drawn the attention of opposing defenses that now must be leery of his presence.
It was once thought Stoudemire and Chandler wouldn’t be a good fit because they both did their best work close to the basket. But they’ve found a workable spacing and enough openings for shots and rebounds as the defense scrambles to defend both.
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