The Mavs’ 109-106 loss Sunday at New Orleans is overstuffed with story lines. But none is more significant than the stomach-churning roller coaster that was Tyson Chandler’s night.
Chandler scared Mavs faithful everywhere when his collision with Anthony Davis caused him to crumble to the ground in the third quarter. He needed plenty of help to get to the bench, and then to the locker room, and then off to the X-ray room went the Dallas defensive, rebounding and inspirational boss.
Oddly, though, his absence led to inspiration because when he returned (after X-rays cleared the Dallas center), the Mavs’ upbeat mood was tangible. Chandler returned early in the fourth quarter, pounded home a dunk, was part of a comeback that featured lots of on-the-hardwood scrambling from him and his mates, and finished the game …
The stomach-churning roller coaster continued on, ending with Chandler being called for a ticky-tacky foul in the final seconds, allowing Davis to go to the line to contribute to a New Orleans win. “The difference in the game was whistles,” said Mavs coach Rick Carlisle, and while his “laser focus” (another of Rick’s favorite slogans) was on that poor call against Chandler, the truth is, Dallas did plenty on its own to lose a second straight game.
The good news is that while Chandler’s injury situation will be monitored very closely in the coming days, this loss could’ve been far more painful. It’s no secret that Chandler is the team’s best overall defender and by far the best rebounder, the latter an area that the team as a whole are struggling mightily, to say the least. The Mavs are last in the NBA over the last 30 days in rebounding. To the Mavs credit they didn’t get pounded on the boards here, losing just 40-38 to New Orleans, who is ranked No. 1. The team’s in-house, private conversation was all about increased effort in this department, and with Rondo totaling eight, Powell totaling six and Ellis totaling five, they deserve credit here.
If their slotting in this category is to improve going forward, you have to guess Tyson Chandler will be a big part of it. But being cautious with the veteran is also important because he’s a key piece for this team long-term.
“Yeah, it looked ugly,” said Dirk Nowitzki. “At first I thought he might have rolled his ankle and then he said it was his knee. So I was obviously worried that he’s gone for a while. Then they came back and said he just bruised it. So that was probably the best news of the night.”
There were other news items, including the Mavs’ inability to execute a pair of end-game inbound passes that would’ve helped their chances. But again, Mavs Nation celebrates Chandler’s return to the game — and will continue to monitor his health — as the 30-15 Mavs move forward for the Tuesday/Wednesday back-to-back against the Grizz and Rockets.