Thursday, January 31, 2013
Chandler shows offensive versatility
By Jared Zwerling
In most games, you're going to see Tyson Chandler stick to his offensive bread and butter: rolling to the basket off pick-and-rolls for lob passes, crashing the boards for putbacks or tapbacks, and setting strong and timely screens for his teammates -- arguably the most underrated aspect of his repertoire.
What you will rarely see is Chandler hitting short jumpshots, scoring on the block and making heads-up passes.
But that's exactly what he did in the Knicks' 113-97 victory over the Magic on Wednesday night, finishing with a team-high 21 points on 10-for-11 shooting. He also had seven rebounds, five assists and 0 turnovers.
"Tyson contributes every night for us," Raymond Felton said. "Even when he scores six points, you look at his stats and he might have 15 rebounds, two blocks, but you don't see the little things that he does -- change shots, he defends well."
Chandler got it going right away -- just 49 seconds into the game. He slipped off a screen and Felton found him for the alley-oop dunk -- a connection between the two that was the best in the league before Felton went down with an injury. Then, Chandler reciprocated the love on the following possession, dishing to Felton for an easy layup.
Later in the first quarter, Chandler became a low-post threat, connecting on two short jump-hooks. Amar'e Stoudemire hasn't been the only one on the team developing low-post moves. They've been something that Chandler has been working on routinely with Herb Williams and LaSalle Thompson after practices.
"Tyson looked good," Carmelo Anthony said after the game. "We've been laughing and joking with Tyson. We need him to shoot that J a little bit more. He's been working on that. Any time he can get 19, 20 points offensively, 10-for-11 from the field, we need that and that puts us over the top."
Chandler said he received extra offensive motivation from his former Hornets coach, Byron Scott, and Mike Woodson earlier in the week.
"(Woody) told me I needed to be more aggressive around the ball, and I needed to get more active," Chandler said. "I took his advice.
Later in the third quarter, with 8:11 to play, Chandler scored in a different way -- a fastbreak dunk with an assist from Anthony. Chandler then continued to make an impact on the offensive glass with his tip-ins. His finishing touch on the game came when he set a great screen for Melo in a pick-and-roll, leaving the Knicks' star wide-open for a 3-pointer, which put them up for good.
One of the biggest reasons why Chandler is so efficient from the floor is that he focuses on his key strengths, knowing that playing alongside Anthony, Felton and J.R. Smith -- three excellent drivers -- will give him easier looks inside.
But don't be mistaken, Chandler can be a much greater offensive threat when called upon. That's a major asset to have, whether the team is rolling or struggling. And let's not forget he's the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.