Grizzlies-Knicks Preview

Tyson Chandler didn’t expect to play so many minutes in his

first game back from injury. The fact he did is the first good news

in quite a while for the New York Knicks.

With their starting center finally healthy, the Knicks will try

to win consecutive games for only the second time this season when

they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.

Chandler logged over 36 minutes and finished with nine points,

nine rebounds and three blocks to help the Knicks (8-17) beat

Milwaukee 107-101 in double-overtime Wednesday.

It was the first game since Nov. 5 for Chandler, who was

sidelined by a non-displaced fracture of his right fibula. The

Knicks won two of their first three without him before suffering an

overall nine-game skid. They also lost seven in a row at home in

his absence.

“I was willing to do whatever it took to get a win,” said

Chandler, who had five boards on the offensive end. “I told coach,

don’t put me on a minute restriction. Whatever you feel like you

need or whenever you need me out there, just keep me out

there.”

It’s hard to speculate as to whether Chandler’s injury was the

biggest reason for the Knicks’ struggles – they opened 1-3 with him

in the lineup – but planting the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year

back in the lane is definitely a plus. The Knicks are second to

last in the league with 39.0 rebounds per game.

Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Beno Udrih added a season-high

21 and J.R. Smith had 19 for the Knicks, who are still missing

point guard Raymond Felton.

“Tyson came back strong,” Anthony said. “Just his presence out

there. His awareness out there on the court, how to be aggressive,

knowing when to be aggressive, when not to – his comeback was big

for us.”

The Knicks, who continue to rely heavily on the 3-pointer, took

a season-high 41 against the Bucks. Smith took 17, the third time

in the last five years he’s attempted at least that many in a

regular-season game. No other player has done it once during that

span.

New York, which won back-to-back games Dec. 5 and 6, has an

opportunity to gain some steam against Memphis and Orlando before a

tough home matchup with surging Oklahoma City on Christmas Day.

The Grizzlies (10-15) have also struggled since losing their own

big man and defensive player of the year to injury.

Memphis was 7-5 heading into a game against San Antonio on Nov.

22. Center Marc Gasol suffered a sprained MCL in the first quarter

of that loss and the Grizzlies have dropped nine of 12 since,

including their last five.

Gasol, who won the defensive player award last season, was

averaging 16.0 points and 7.1 rebounds and is expected back in

January.

The Grizzlies, who had won five straight road games before

losing at New Orleans last Friday, had their overall skid extended

with a 105-91 defeat at Dallas on Wednesday.

Tayshaun Prince missed his first game this season with a sore

left knee, and Memphis was also without point guard Mike Conley. It

dressed only 10 players for the game.

Tony Allen led the Grizzlies with 16 points and matched a career

high with 11 rebounds – 10 on the offensive end – but he left in

the fourth quarter because of a cut on his pinkie that required

three stitches.

“I’m going to try to play (Saturday),” Allen said. “I don’t want

to sit out and do all that behind-the-scenes treatment.”

Conley, leading the team with 18.2 points and 6.3 assists per

game, is expected to return against the Knicks.