On Wednesday afternoon, the Knicks received bad news: Rasheed Wallace needs surgery and will be out for eight weeks with a broken bone in his left foot.
The team had no immediate answer at backup center, as Marcus Camby's return from a strained left plantar remains uncertain.
But who needs a backup center when your starting center records 16 points, a career-high 28 rebounds, two steals and a block? That's exactly what Tyson Chandler did on Wednesday night in the Knicks' 109-105 win over the Golden State Warriors. While Warriors point guard Stephen Curry will dominate the headlines after scoring a career-high 54 points on 11-for-13 shooting from 3-point range, it was Chandler's play right out of the gate and down the stretch that put the Knicks on top.
In the first quarter, Chandler knew exactly what to do: attack the smaller Golden State lineup since the Warriors were without star forward David Lee (suspension) and center Andrew Bogut (back spasms). In the opening period alone, Chandler had seven points and 13 rebounds. He had three dunks and four offensive boards, as the Knicks led 27-18 after the first quarter -- their most dominant first 12 minutes in some time.
After the game, Chandler noted he never realizes how many rebounds he has, saying he just "chases" them down. What he did realize, however, was how fresh he felt before tipoff.
"I just wanted to win honestly," he said. "We had a great day of practice yesterday, and coming in, I had some lively legs and my guys did an excellent job of defending. I was just trying to make sure to limit [the Warriors] to one shot."
Later in the fourth quarter, Chandler helped seal the victory with two of the biggest plays of the evening. With 3:03 remaining, J.R. Smith missed a 3-pointer, and Chandler swatted the ball back to the outside, which was picked up by Carmelo Anthony, who knocked down a 3-pointer from the top of the key. That gave the Knicks a momentum-changing 105-103 lead.
Then, with 1:05 left in the game, Chandler came to help Iman Shumpert set a vicious trap on Jarrett Jack, who was forced into a traveling violation. Golden State didn't score a single point after that.
"Unbelievable," Mike Woodson said of Chandler's performance. "I thought he was the difference in the game in terms of our defense. He got everything off the glass, and with the double-teams he was right there."
In the end, Chandler played 42 minutes -- the most he's played since Nov. 26 against the Nets -- and he finished with a career night. While he and the coaching staff are likely mindful of his minutes -- while crossing their fingers that Camby will return soon -- the All-Star center was only focused on tonight. He knew how important the outcome was.
"I really wanted to be out there," he said. "I felt lively. It was necessary, especially this time of year. We've got to get these wins."
What about another 20-rebound-game streak?
"We'll see, hopefully," he said. "I mean, as long as there's winning behind it -- me getting 20 rebounds, I'm all for it."
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