The toughest part of Tyson Chandler’s night was the postgame interview.
The California native and San Francisco 49ers fan, who had just tied a franchise record with his third straight 20-rebound game, was forced to face the media wearing a Ravens Super Bowl champion hat, payment of a lost bet with Baltimore fan Carmelo Anthony.
”That made my day. You just don’t know,” said Anthony, who stood across the locker room and watched Chandler’s interview with a smile. ”It was a good day for me, it just was a coincidence that he had three games with 20 rebounds. That picture will be everywhere.”
That’s about all that hasn’t gone Chandler’s way lately.
The veteran center added another highlight to his first All-Star season, Anthony scored 27 points, and the New York Knicks beat the Detroit Pistons 99-85 on Monday night for their fifth consecutive victory.
In a game that was decided early, Chandler played long enough to grab his 20th rebound midway through the fourth quarter. After grabbing 20 in victories on Friday and Saturday night, he became the first Knicks player to have 20 in three straight games since Hall of Famer Willis Reed in December 1969.
”That’s what I expect,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. ”He can’t tease me. He’s done it three straight games, so I’m expecting it the fourth game.”
Chandler has been on a tear since Woodson bluntly told him that he wasn’t playing the kind of complete basketball that’s expected of a player of his stature.
”He called me into his office and he said, `You’re an All-Star, you need to start playing like it. The last thing you want is people questioning that,” Chandler said. ”The next night, I had a different focus about me.”
Two nights after being held to nine points, snapping his franchise single-season record of 31 games in a row with 20 or more, Anthony matched that total in the first quarter and shot 10 of 17 from the field.
Amare Stoudemire added 20 points and J.R. Smith added 16, along with a couple of comedic highlights in a game that was mostly a yawner.
It was another lopsided victory for the Knicks, who beat Sacramento by 39 on Saturday and led this one by as many as 26 before easing up in the second half. They have jumped on the Pistons early in all three meetings this season, and after nearly rallying to beat the Lakers on Sunday, Detroit couldn’t get really close in this one.
”The last two times we’ve played New York, they’ve dominated the first quarter,” Pistons coach Lawrence Frank said. ”We put ourselves in such a hole that we start playing frustration basketball. Mentally we don’t stay as focused or engaged as we need to be.”
Newly acquired Jose Calderon scored 15 points in his Detroit debut, while Greg Monroe had 13 points and 10 rebounds.
Woodson lost his chance to coach the Eastern Conference in the All-Star game Sunday when Miami’s victory in Toronto gave Erik Spoelstra the nod. But Woodson still thinks the Knicks can be ahead of the Heat when the teams break on Feb. 15, saying he wanted the Knicks to go 9-2 in their 11 games leading into the weekend.
They’re 6-1 now with winnable road games up next at Washington and Minnesota before they finish up at home against the Los Angeles Clippers and Toronto.
”I knew guys might be thinking about All-Star break and where they might decide to go, and this is not the time to lay down and think about those things. You’ve got to still figure out how we can win games up until the break,” Woodson said. ”So that was the goal that we as coaches sat down and came up with, and they understand what’s at stake here and what we’re trying to do.”
The Knicks scored 64 first-half points in a rout of the Pistons on Nov. 25 and jumped to a 16-2 lead in a 102-87 victory in London last month.
This time, it was 28-13 after one, grew to 33-13 early in the second, and peaked at 57-31 on Anthony’s layup with 45 seconds remaining in the first half. The Knicks at one point had 10 3-pointers to the Pistons’ 12 baskets, and on a couple of occasions it seemed Frank was practically calling a timeout before a Knicks shot finished going in.
Things were so easy that Knicks players, though not Woodson, had a good laugh when Smith threw up an airball on a free throw in the first half. Perhaps seeking some extra shooting, or maybe tougher competition, Smith came out during the halftime break, where a youth game was taking place. Smith tried to defend the inbound passer, then ran up the court with the kids, waving his arms to call for the ball.
Acquired last week in the three-team trade that sent Rudy Gay from Memphis to Toronto, Calderon was cleared to play Monday. The Spanish guard’s debut had been on hold because of unresolved visa issues, and he was immediately put into the starting lineup once he was good to go.
”They’ve got to get used to me and I’ve got to get used to them,” Calderon said. ”It’s going to be just time working together, practicing, games, whatever it takes. Everybody was just trying to help. We’ll be OK. I like what I saw.”
He was the lone bright spot much of the night. Rodney Stuckey added 14 points and Will Bynum had 13.
Notes: Monday was the anniversary of the start of Linsanity. Jeremy Lin came off the bench of a Feb. 4, 2012, game against the Nets and scored 25 points, sparking the Knicks to a victory and sending himself on the way to becoming a global phenomenon. … The Knicks have won the last six meetings at home.