MIAMI -- At the end of an emotional night, Tyson Chandler sat with his feet in ice buckets smiling. The Mavericks center was happy because a brief but memorable funk had come to an end.
In Game 1 of the NBA Finals, Chandler scored nine points and tied a playoff-low with four rebounds in 33 minutes. Chandler was not happy with his efforts after that loss. His coach, Rick Carlisle, didn't single him out, but noted that the Mavericks' big men needed to play better. Much better.
Chandler was active off the bat in Game 2 on Thursday night. The Mavericks got him involved in the offense and he responded with a strong performance. On the defensive side, he got going by attacking the glass. When his night was over, Chandler finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in 38 solid minutes.
Chandler also did some things that weren't in the box score.
With less than a minute to play and the score tied at 90, Chandler told his teammates during a timeout that he might be able to set a screen to free up one of the Mavericks' shooters.
Well, Dirk Nowitzki got free and Chandler folded both arms and bumped into Miami's Udonis Haslem, preventing the defender from getting through a screen. It allowed Nowizki to get an open look at a 3-pointer, which he made to give the Mavs a 93-90 lead with 26.7 seconds remaining.
The screen was so good that Haslem looked helpless.
"I kept seeing they were pre-rotating to our shooters and they kept getting lost in our screen and rolls," Chandler said. "So coming out of that timeout I told the guys, 'If me and Dirk set a double screen, look back to this side because I feel like I can get a pick on one of them and they’re going to be confused.' And it opened up.'"
After Tuesday's loss, Chandler answered questions about his poor play. He said he would perform to a better standard by going to the basket on defense for rebounds and not playing tenatively on offense. It seemed Chandler's first appearance in the NBA Finals rattled him and some of his teammates.
In Game 2, Chandler was more relaxed.
"I just said, I don’t care what my stats end up, I’m just going to give everything I've got," he said. "I'm going to leave it out on the floor, and there’s no way I’m walking out of this game with any disappointment. That was the longest day-and-a-half ever. I has happy to get back on this floor."
Chandler still dealt with foul problems, he picked up his fifth with 4:10 to play in the game, but Carlisle stayed with him knowing he was playing well on both ends.
"Tyson has been our MVP defensively all season long," Nowitzki said. "He's covered a lot of ground for us. We did a better job I thought of pick-and-roll coverage. He really stepped out there, impacted the ball. We were still able to recover back some and scramble."