Tyson Chandler continues to impress his coach and Team USA teammates. The new Dallas Mavericks center scored four points, making both of his shots, and had three rebounds and a blocked shot in 14 minutes in Team USA's 86-55 exhibition win over the Roddy Beaubois-less French squad Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
"Tyson has been outstanding," USA coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "We have a relationship from the 2007 qualifying team. One, he is such a good team member. Even when we're in the meal room, he'll make sure he's eating with different players. He's talking up. He doesn't need the ball. He's stronger. I bet he's at least probably 15 pounds heavier and stronger than he was in 2007. He feels healthy. You get these guys who are good players who have been out with injury and all of a sudden they start -- they're really excited. That's where Tyson is."
Chandler missed 68 games over the past two seasons with ankle and foot injuries. The Mavs traded for him last month banking on the 7-foot-1 defensive-minded center being completely healthy. So far, Team USA is seeing a very loose and agile Chandler. He is the lone true center left on the roster and he'll be the starter when the FIBA World Championships begin on Aug. 28 in Turkey.
"Tyson has been great, man. I'm really happy Tyson is healthy," point guard Chauncey Billups said. "He's been playing great. We're definitely happy to have him. We're going to lean on him a lot. "
The Mavs had two other centers, both acquired over the summer, in the game playing for the French team. Ian Mahinmi started, played 15 minutes, had no points, four rebounds, two assists and four fouls. Alexis Ajinca, the Mavs' fourth center who they hope to trade before the start of the season, came off the bench for two points on 1-of-6 shooting and five rebounds in nine minutes.
Also, Mavs guard J.J. Barea put up 11 points and 10 assists in Puerto Rico's 92-76 exhibition victory over China, the second of an international doubleheader Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
Here's a brief Q&A with Chandler from after Sunday's game:
You are the lone true center on the roster. What do you think about the team's depth?:
This is something I expected coming here. I knew I was going to have to be a defensive presence. I knew I was going to have to bring a defensive presence; I knew I was going to have to bring rebounding. So it didn’t change, those were my expectations coming in.
How is your health after two tough seasons with injuries?:
I can play as much as they need me. I’m 100 percent now. I feel great before games, I feel great after games. I feel great before and after practice. So I can play as much as they need me.
Could you talk about getting some more international experience under your belt with France?
This is really good. It was really good for us as a unit. I think it was a good game as far as they came out and they played us close in the first half. And we came out in the second half and I think our defense really wore on them and our defense turned into offense.
What did Coach K talk to you about at halftime?
Just to continue to play solid. Continue to allow our defense to turn into offense. In the game the other day, we did a good job of kind of playing simple defense and not doing so much gambling. And we gambled at the right times. I think tonight we did that. That's why we were able to bust the lead open.
You guys had a couple of turnovers that were soft passes. Is that a matter of taking a little more time with each other?
Yeah, yeah. It's a matter of a little more time, communication. Us understanding each other. Me and Rondo missed each other right at the beginning of the game. Right when we came over to the sideline, me and Rondo had a chance to talk and they told me, look when we come, this is where the pass is going to be. This is where it's going to come from every time. In the second half I was looking for it. And then it's that kind of communication that ultimately is going to make us better.