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Melo: Tyson deserves cheers in MSG return

12/16/2014
In Melo's mind, booing big man Tyson Chandler in his Tuesday MSG return wouldn't make much sense. Getty Images

GREENBURGH, N.Y. –- Tyson Chandler returns to Madison Square Garden on Tuesday night, and Carmelo Anthony said the former Knicks center deserves a warm reception.

“I hope they cheer for him,” Anthony said about when the Mavericks visit the Knicks. “He was a guy who came in and won Defensive Player of the Year here. He was a big part to what we were trying to create here and what we did at one point in time."

“I don’t think they need to boo him or anything,” Anthony continued. “The only reason you boo him [is] because he’s on another team. If you want to do that, then you should boo everybody that’s on another team. I don’t think you should boo him because he left the New York Knicks.”

What might be more interesting is to see how Knicks fans feel after Tuesday night’s game. The last time Chandler played the Knicks, he gave them a harsh reminder of what they traded away, dropping 17 points and a season-high 25 rebounds to go with two blocked shots in a 109-102 win in Dallas.

The 5-21 Knicks sure could use Chandler this season. Without him, the Knicks lack presence inside the paint. Amar'e Stoudemire has probably exceeded expectations this season, but the Knicks desperately need an intimidating big man.

Chandler and Raymond Felton were dealt to Dallas in the offseason in a trade that brought back Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Wayne Ellington and two second-round picks. The deal was largely made by Phil Jackson to unload Felton, but it cost them their best defender and rebounder along with Chandler’s expiring contract.

Jackson also said he was trying to improve team chemistry and “start with some character guys” when explaining the trade. Last season, Chandler made some headlines when he questioned Mike Woodson’s defensive schemes.

By the end of a disappointing 37-45 campaign, Chandler seemed ready for a fresh start elsewhere, as he and some of his teammates took their fair share of heat for last season’s struggles.

“That’s the state of our game, man,” Anthony said when asked about how some people made Chandler to be a scapegoat for the Knicks' disappointing season last year.

“That’s what we have to deal with as players. If something ain’t going right, they find somebody to pin it on. In Tyson’s situation, they [critics] said it was him. That’s the nature of our game. There’s always going to be somebody that they point the finger at. In that situation, it was him during that time.”

“I don’t see anything he did wrong,” Anthony added. “I think he did a great job of coming to play when he was here.”

Chandler looked like he had something to prove to the Knicks when they last met, on Nov. 26.

Anthony sat out that game due to back spasms but watched Chandler create havoc against the Knicks.

“I remember him having a hell of a game,” Anthony said. “I was drugged up that day [due to the back pain]. ... Everything was kind of blurry to me. But I watched it, I saw it, how impactful he was during that game, how excited he was to play against us.”

Of course, the Knicks have more things to worry about than what kind of reception Chandler draws in his Garden return. The Knicks just need to win and pull through in a tight game for once.

Stoudemire hopes Chandler’s presence will add buzz to the game.

“I think [Tuesday] is going to be a great game for us and also for Dallas with Tyson being back in New York,” Stoudemire said.

"Tyson gave us some good years, he truly did, he was a true pro,” Stoudemire added. “His defensive methods were great. I think the crowd will give him a cheer because 'once a Knick, you're always a Knick.' He does play for Dallas, and they might not cheer him for all too long."

The System: The Knicks had some success using some pick-and-roll sets during Sunday’s overtime loss to Toronto. Anthony, though, believes the Knicks are getting better at the triangle.

“I don’t want to keep talking about the system,” Anthony said when asked if learning the triangle is still an issue. “The system is just a foundation of what we are trying to run on the offensive end. It is just a matter of what we do in that system.

“Yesterday we did some things that didn’t involve the actual system, and sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t,” Anthony added. “I do think we are getting better at learning the actual system and learning the counters to the system. Now we got to start believing in it more and becoming more comfortable day by day.”

Injury report: The Knicks practiced on Monday but had several players sit out. Anthony (recovery), Larkin (illness), J.R. Smith (left plantar fascia), Pablo Prigioni (sore ankle), Iman Shumpert (left shoulder) and Stoudemire (recovery) all did not practice.