After a severe ankle sprain on Jan. 19, Tyson Chandler had plenty of time to sit on the Hornets' bench and observe what the team needed to break out of its recent downturn. Now that he's been back on the court for two games, the 7-foot-1 center has been providing exactly what New Orleans was lacking - and then some.
Chandler delivered 10 points and a season-high 17 rebounds tonight, for his second straight double-double. On Monday at Sacramento, the eighth-year pro had 15 points and 10 rebounds. Not coincidentally, the Hornets (34-22) have now won two straight games after dropping the first two contest of their West Coast trip. The Pistons (27-29) lost their eighth straight game, which is hard to fathom for a team with so much star power.
"One of the things we've been lacking without TC is offensive rebounds, because he's one of the best in the game," Byron Scott said of Chandler, who had seven offensive boards. "He's been able to come back and for two games, his return has been unbelievable. We just have to hope he can continue to do what he's doing.
"We're a better defensive team and a better rebounding team with him in there. He's our best communicator, one of our best help defenders and our best post defender. So yeah, when he's out, we miss a lot."
Chandler and David West grabbed several critical rebounds during a nip-and-tuck fourth quarter. West pulled down two straight offensive boards on the Hornets' final possession, then sank two free throws to make it a 90-87 margin. Detroit's Walter Herrmann had a shot from the right wing that would have tied the game, but the shot bounced off the rim just before the final buzzer.
Chandler received a rousing ovation during starting lineup introductions, in his first home game since his return from injury - and the rescinded trade.
"It was really good to get in my home building and play in front of the fans," Chandler said. "While I was hurt, I was able to watch and make my own assessment of what we needed. A lot of times you can make good out of bad. My time (out) has motivated me and mentally prepared me for what we need to do for the rest of the season."
HORNETS POSTGAME QUOTES
They came out and played extremely well the 2nd quarter. I knew it was going to be a tight game all the way. I am glad we made some big plays in the end and got the stops when we needed to. We have been talking about rebounds all season long. West and Chandler got 27 out of 51 rebounds. That is how the game is won; the game is won in the trenches. The last couple games we have done a much better job in that department. We caught them at a good time.
On Tyson Chandler:
He gives us the opportunity to get second chance points; all the little things we have been missing since he has been out. It wasnt his time to leave and we thank God that it wasnt.
On the game: I actually thought this was going to be a close game. When we got the lead in the first quarter, I knew if we didnt push to sustain that lead that they would stay around. They have a lot of pride in them; they came to fight tonight.
On the game: They (the Pistons) have got a great defense. They came in and played hard. (Jason) Maxiell did a great job of coming in and getting second opportunities and just scrambling down low.
On Tyson Chandlers return: Weve been struggling on the defensive end and in rebounding. Tyson (Chandler) has really stepped up the last two games that hes been back. You can see hes already elevated us at the defensive end. He does so many things for us. When you have an inside presence, it makes things much easier. I think the main thing tonight was our defense. We were able to pull it out in the end.