DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler, credited with turning the Dallas Mavericks into a legitimate defensive force this season, finished third in voting for the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year behind Orlando Magic center Dwight Howard, who won for a record third-consecutive season, and Boston Celtics forward Kevin Garnett.
Howard won in a landslide with 114 first-place votes. Garnett received one first-place vote. Chandler, in his first season with the Mavs following two injury-riddled seasons with New Orleans and Charlotte, received 20 second-place votes and finished seven points behind Garnett in the final tally.
It is the highest a Mavs player has ever finished for the defensive award.
Chandler averaged 9.4 rebounds, the fourth-highest total of his 10-year career, and 1.1 blocks to go with 10.1 points. Beyond the stats, Chandler emerged as a team leader in the locker room and on the floor, and no more so than on the defensive end, where the Mavs have languished over the years.
Dallas finished the regular season ranked 10th in the NBA in points allowed (96.0) and eighth in defensive efficiency. Last season, Dallas finished in the middle of the pack.
"I think we’re on our way," Chandler said Monday of the Mavs becoming an elite defensive unit. "The more we believe in it the better we get. We definitely have the potential to do that. We’re not up there with the teams that I’ve watched throughout the year that have really kicked it into high gear, but we’re getting there."
Chandler is credited for making it possible.