GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- After nearly being swept by the Heat in last season's playoff series, Tyson Chandler vowed to come back a better scoring threat. After Thursday's practice, Chandler reflected on his offensive mindset back in early May.
"Absolutely," he said, "because I felt like we've got to have more if I want to get my team over the hump, if I want to accomplish the things that I said I wanted to accomplish the day I signed here. I've got to be the best player I can be. I took that personally, I took it seriously after we got knocked out like that. I'm on a mission this season."
No doubt about that. Through 25 games, with the Knicks hoisting an Eastern Conference-best 19-6 record, Chandler is averaging career-highs in points (13.0) and field goal percentage (70.3), which is, as of right now, the second-best mark in NBA history behind Wilt Chamberlain's 72.7 percent in 1972-73 with the Lakers.
Chandler credits his offensive development from playing in the Olympics -- "In practice, I was allowed to score," he said, smiling -- and being in the best shape of his career. Woodson noticed both factors have paid off for his starting center.
"I think the Olympics put him in a different light, winning the gold medal with his teammates," he said. "But just the way we're playing. Offensively, the ball is flowing, man, and he's been great. You think about his conditioning. To be able to rebound, block shots, defend and then pick-and-roll basketball, man, you're asking a big guy to do a lot, and he's doing it."
Chandler has also been leaping high to tap balls off misses back to his teammates on the perimeter. They've really come in handy extending possessions for the Knicks down the stretch in close games.
"That play, back in the day, wasn't around," Woodson said. "I mean, you just had to go rebound the ball. Guys didn't think about doing that. The way they're calling over the back and things of that nature, Tyson is using it to his advantage and we're benefiting from it."
Woodson said "without a doubt" Chandler should be an All-Star for the first time, and be, once again, in the Defensive Player of the Year conversation. Jason Kidd suggested that Chandler could've been an All-Star previously.
"Sometimes it's being in the wrong conference at the wrong time. That's all," he said.
MELO IMPROVES BALL MOVEMENT: While Kidd and Raymond Felton have been getting most of the recognition for the team's improved efficiency and ball rotation, Carmelo Anthony's presence is underrated. The attention he gets, especially with double teams, frees up things for the Knicks.
New York Knicks
"We know he gets a lot of attention and he got double-teamed a lot last night," Kidd said, "and for him to give the ball up, it just makes us that much better, and guys being able to finish plays. And then for him, he gets the ball back to knock down a 3 when he gets double-teamed. It's just the trust. You can see that he trusts his teammates and he's playing as good as anyone right now."
Speaking of Melo, he has the top-selling jersey for last week on Fanatics.com, a leading online retailer of officially-licensed sports merchandise. Rounding out the top five is LeBron James, Derrick Rose, Kobe Bryant and Rajon Rondo.
RUN, COACH, RUN: At the start of the season, the team decided if the players kept their turnovers at 12 or fewer in a game, the coaches would have to run during the next practice. Well, as you can guess, there's been a lot of laps accumulated because the Knicks are averaging a league-best 10.7 turnovers per game.
"They live for that," Woodson said smiling. "It's like they sit over there, and somebody takes a charge, 'Hey, coach, that's another one.' They're more in tuned than I am because when I get to that board in the morning, I'm looking to see what it is. It's five now, but last week it was 12, 16, 17, boy. That 16, 17 run was tough on me" (laughs).
By the way, Woodson has been the one who's been facilitating the motivational quotes on printouts before games at the Garden. Against the Rockets, it was, "WIN: We don't predict the future; we create it." Against the Nets, it was a quote from Plato saying, "We are twice armed if we fight with faith."
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