Unfortunately for Orlando, Tyson Chandler and the New York Knicks stole the show. In a 96-80 victory for New York, Chandler and Howard were mic'd up for TNT. While Howard encouraged his teammates and told them to play hard "even if we mess up and lose", Chandler's leadership was on another level.
This shouldn't be surprising, Chandler's former teammates in Dallas have raved about how vocal he is on the floor, but it was really cool to see. From encouraging rookie Iman Shumpert, to breaking down how the team was playing defense, to hyping up the guys on the bench, Chandler had every aspect of the game covered.
We've become used to seeing Knicks teams that are often divided or embattled. The clips in the highlight package from last night's game showed a team that is together and supportive. Carmelo Anthony and Baron Davis were vocal in encouraging their younger guys, the bench was engaged and the coaching staff was animated on every possession.
It's fun to hear Chandler telling his reserves, "Let's go. Be a dog. Come on!" It's also nice to get an inside look into the team's persona during the game. Chandler obviously wants and expects his teammates to play hard, compete and dig in on defense. With Mike Woodson at the helm now, defense takes a priority. This fits Chandler's game and also allows him to take on more of a leadership role. A savvy vet, this is a great benefit for the Knicks.
When you watch those clips, it makes you want things to work out for the Knicks. While they've had their share of drama—and likely always will, playing in the media capital of the world—they've dealt with Amar'e Stoudemire's rough season on and off the floor, losing Lin after a spectacular run and seeing their coach resign. They're sticking together and rallying in the home stretch.
It's nice to see.
It's also nicer to hear than Howard telling his teammates to "give everything we've got" when it's pretty clear that he didn't do that in the loss last night.