MIAMI -- New York Knicks center Tyson Chandler returned to the starting lineup Tuesday night in a 102-90 win over the Miami Heat, after missing the past 10 games with a small bulging disk in his neck.
"I was a little stiff out there," he said afterward. "Obviously fatigued. It was my first time stepping on the court in three weeks, running up and down the floor. I really just wanted to get the win."
Said Knicks coach Mike Woodson, "He's rusty. I mean, you expect that; the guy hadn't played in a while. He played 20-some minutes, which was good minutes for him because it was his first outing in a while. We've got to get him back in the mix, get him back in the flow and get him back up to speed where he's getting his 30 minutes."
In 24 minutes on Tuesday, the All-Star only scored one point and grabbed two rebounds, but he had a big block on Chris Bosh's layup attempt with 2:09 remaining in the game, which kept the Knicks up 96-88.
"It felt good to get that [block], to be able to move that well," he said. "I was happy with the way I played."
During the game, Chandler wore a black shirt underneath his jersey, which had tape on it to prevent him from moving too fast. While he didn't play at full strength, he said getting acclimated again with his teammates and building back rhythm were two motivating factors behind his return on Tuesday.
"My team has been on a streak," he said. "I thought this would be a tough win coming down to Miami, so I wanted to be a part of it. I obviously wanted to keep things alive, and also I want to get in rhythm before the playoffs come."
More important, Chandler said he felt "no serious pain" in the Knicks' victory, which extended their NBA-best winning streak to nine games.
"Obviously some stiffness and soreness, which disables me a little bit," he said. "But it's something I'm confident that will get better each game."
With the win, the Knicks controlled their regular-season series against the Heat, 3-1, as they connected on 59 3-pointers compared to the Heat's 29. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Mario Chalmers didn't play on Tuesday because of minor injuries.
The Knicks flew out to Atlanta early Wednesday morning to conclude a challenging back-to-back against the Hawks, but Chandler is not sure if he'll play yet.
"I haven't discussed anything with the trainers. I'll see what they see," he said.
While the Knicks improved to 47-26, holding down the second seed in the Eastern Conference, the Heat lost their first home game since Jan. 4 to the Bulls. They're now 32-4 at the AmericanAirlines Arena.
Jared Zwerling is a contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.