NEW YORK -- In the span of a week, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle had definitively stated that center Tyson Chandler won't make the All-Star team, then gave him an outside shot to make the squad, and finally upgraded that to a legitimate shot Wednesday night after Chandler put up his second consecutive double-double and fourth in seven games in the 113-97 win over the New York Knicks.
Chandler had 15 points and 11 rebounds, and after a rough first half against Amare Stoudemire, held up his halftime vow to clamp down on the MVP candidate. Chandler did, holding Stoudemire scoreless in the second half.
The Western Conference coaches select the seven All-Star reserves, and those picks will be announced tonight. Chandler, who went to high school in Los Angeles where the All-Star Game will be played, has said he'd love to get the nod. After the Knicks game he said he feels he has put himself in the conversation, and when he looks around the West, he doesn't see another center playing as dynamic a role for their team as he is for the Mavs.
"Tyson’s an All-Star," Carlisle said. "I don’t know that he’ll get voted, but he’s an All-Star, and there’s probably three or four other guys in the same boat. He’s truly deserving. He has had a great impact on our team. And, it may surprise people, he may have a legitimate shot, and he should, because of the effect he’s had on our group, particularly at the defensive end."
Just as Dirk Nowitzki's value to his team was amplified during his nine-game absence, a similar case can be made for Chandler. When Nowitzki returned, and although he was clearly still hobbled, the Mavs' woes, offensively as well as defensively, continued as Chandler missed several games with an illness.
That's all turned around with Nowitzki and Chandler returning to full strength. In the past seven games, Chandler is averaging 16.9 points and 10.3 rebounds. His season averages are nearing double-double territory as his scoring has jumped to 10.2 points a game to go with 9.3 rebounds.
Chandler slams home his share of alley-oop lobs, but he's also expanding his repertoire as the Mavs integrate him more into the offense. His jumper from the elbow has become nearly automatic and he's been filling it up from the free throw line.
"What we’re all seeing now is he’s doing some great things offensively as well," Carlisle said. "He’s a big part of what we’re doing and I can’t stress that or repeat it enough."