By Sean Hartnett
» More Columns
The Knicks were run out of the building by Jeremy Lin and the Houston Rockets on Monday night. Questions were being raised about the Knicks’ defense after they barely scraped out a 103-102 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers and were torched by the Rockets, 109-96.
Great teams answer their critics emphatically, and that’s exactly what the Knicks did at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night. Thanks to a dominant second-half performance, the Knicks coasted to a 100-86 win over the rival Brooklyn Nets.
At the center of it all was the Knicks’ heart-and-soul big man, Tyson Chandler, who was a force in the low post. Chandler commanded the paint as the Nets only made nine trips to the free-throw line. His fearsome interior prescience forced the Nets into more difficult shots outside the paint. The Nets weren’t coming into his house.
“He was solid,” Knicks head coach Mike Woodson told reporters after the game. “He plugs up holes for some of the mistakes that we make defensively. He’s be doing that all year.”
Chandler has a knack for tipping offensive rebounds out to open teammates, which allows the Knicks to retain possessions.
“He’s getting key rebounds,” Woodson said about Chandler. “He’s knocking the ball out when he can’t even get both hands on it to keep the ball alive and get us extra possessions. That’s big. He’s doing all the little things to help you win basketball games.”
Chandler finished with a double-double of 16 points and 12 rebounds. Raymond Felton and Chandler worked the alley-oop to perfection as Chandler threw down a number of monster jams. The Nets had no answer for Chandler. Six of his seven field goals were dunks — five of which were alley-oops.
While Chandler was being dominant in the paint, returning superstar Carmelo Anthony was hitting shots from all areas. Melo didn’t miss a beat after recovering from a troublesome sprained ankle. Anthony finished with 31 points and made nifty moves to find his own space.
J.R. Smith came off the bench to have one of his most consistent games as a Knick. Smith hit an efficient seven of 11 shots for 19 points and went 4-for-4 from the free-throw line.
After a rare hiccup at home against the Rockets, the Knicks responded in a big way to improve their home record to 11-1. Whether it’s the Nets or anyone else around the league, no one wants to come into MSG as the visitor. Invaders beware: You’re going to have to bring your best to the Garden floor if you wish to escape MSG with a victory.
Has Madison Square Garden become the Knicks’ fortress? Share your thoughts below and send your tweets to @HartnettWFAN.