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Chandler: Mavs will be great defensive team

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks’ starting lineup is loaded with scorers, but ...

“I’m going to make them defend,” Tyson Chandler said, interrupting in the middle of the sentence. “We’re going to defend. You can score as many points as you want, but at the end of the day, defense wins championships and that’s what we’re going to do.

“Guys don’t have to be the best individual defenders in the league, but we are going to be a great defensive team. You have to do your assignment. We’re not going to take plays off.”

The Mavs at least have a defensive backbone again with the return of the 7-foot-1 Chandler to Dallas. His attitude and commitment to holding teammates accountable is arguably as important as his athleticism.

Chandler understands that some of the Mavs’ starters have physical limitations that challenge them on the defensive end. Dirk Nowitzki isn’t going to get any quicker before the season starts. Monta Ellis isn’t going to get any taller.

All Chandler asks for is a consistent commitment to playing smart, intense defense.

It’s Chandler’s job to mask some of the Mavs’ defensive weaknesses after Dallas ranked 22nd in the league last season in defensive efficiency, allowing 105.9 points per 100 possession.

“That’s all about understanding your defense and your strengths and your weaknesses and understanding your teammates and learning how to play within the system defensively,” said Chandler, the league’s defensive player of the year in 2011-12. “I can definitely make up for that.”

Chandler isn’t waiting for training camp to set a tone. He’s constantly barking during the pickup games the Mavs have been playing for the last few weeks, demanding that Dallas’ defensive principles are followed and schemes are executed even though the coaches aren’t allowed in the gym.

“You’re going to do all the crazy stuff and work on all the things you did this summer, and that’s all fine and dandy, but on this other end, we’re starting right now,” Chandler said. “Since I got here and we started playing pickups, I’m on guys. That’s what it has to be.

“I don’t know how to turn it off and on. I only know one way, and it’s got to be the right way or else don’t suit up.”