Notebook: Chandler recruited Kidd

When the Knicks were reassembling in the offseason, Tyson Chandler knew there was a missing piece: Jason Kidd.

So Chandler called his former Mavericks teammate a few times during the summer, expressing how much he wanted the point guard to sign with the Knicks.

"I told him, 'You're needed over here,'" Chandler said after the Knicks beat the Nets on Tuesday night. "I told him, 'This organization is willing to make moves and willing to chase a ring, willing to put the players in the right place.' I told him, 'We have some other guys that we may get in free agency, so this could be a really deep roster and we need a guy like you.' I felt like he could be the key to put us over the hump."

With the future Hall of Fame point guard, the Knicks' offensive efficiency has been through the roof as they've become the best team in the East at 16-5. He's also made an impact with his defense (1.9 steals per game) and 3-point shooting (tops in the NBA at 53 percent).

"I watch him," Chandler said of the 39-year-old Kidd. "He takes care of his body. You always see him in the training room, working out, doing the little things that keeps himself on the floor."

SMITH STEPS UP: Not only did J.R. Smith have his best shooting night in six games -- he was 7-for-15 for 16 points off the bench -- but he did it with a lower back injury suffered after hitting the deck hard during the game. He was seen walking gingerly out of the locker room after the contest.

"I asked him if he wanted to come out in that timeout, and I was going to go with Ronnie for defensive purposes," Mike Woodson said. "And he said, 'No,' he was going to stay in. So that says a lot. These guys want to win."

Said Chandler: "He showed a lot of guts, a lot of character. Coach is on him a lot about his defense, getting down in his stance. He was having back spasms, and for him to come up with the stops and make big shots on top of that, it shows a lot of courage."

KNICKS KNOW HOW TO FINISH: Most of the time this season when the Knicks have been down at the half or in the closing periods, they've been able to fight back. One big exception was their first matchup with the Nets, on Nov. 26, losing 96-89 in overtime. But on Tuesday night, they made sure that didn't happen again.

Woodson pointed to the team's defensive effort in the second quarter, holding the Nets to 23 points (the Knicks had 33 in the frame). From there, the 'Bockers clawed back in the game by going to Carmelo Anthony, forcing the Nets to shoot jumpers and making gritty plays, from offensive tap-outs to diving for loose balls.

"We don’t give up. We just stick to our principles," Chandler said. "This team is not going to quit. No matter what, we're going to play until the buzzer goes off. We always feel like we have an opportunity to win."

STAT UPDATE: Amar'e Stoudemire went through a strenuous shooting workout before the game on Tuesday night. Judging by his fitness and the ease of his movements, his return can't be far off. However, there is still no timetable for his return, and Woodson said Stoudemire still needs to be cleared by team doctors to practice.

"He's still working," the coach said after Tuesday morning's shootaround. "We've got to get some practice time under our belt for him before he actually decides what he wants to do. At this point, it's still in the doctor's hands and Amar'e's hands."

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