(Ty Nowell/Los Angeles Lakers)
Tyson Chandler Provides Physicality, Clutch Plays in Lakers Debut
After 18 years in the NBA, Tyson Chandler is finally able to represent his hometown of Los Angeles.
The Dominguez High product checked into Wednesday’s game to the sound of a standing ovation, and from that point he was instrumental in the Lakers’ win over Minnesota.
Chandler’s immediate impact was seen on the offensive side of the ball. His only bucket was a put-back, but he had a hand (or, more accurately, an entire body) involved in a handful of his teammates’ scores.
The 7-foot-1, 240-pounder spent the night setting monstrous screens, both on and off the ball. The Lakers ran much of their offense off Chandler’s picks, which often created chain reactions that led to success later in the possession.
“They were extremely solid,” Brandon Ingram said of Chandler’s screens. “We felt free, we felt open when we went downhill.”
More Chandler aggressive screening frees KCP for 3. pic.twitter.com/mclff4lvxQ— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) November 8, 2018
Yet Chandler — who hadn’t even been through a full practice with the team — had most of his focus on the defensive side of the floor.
“Tonight I was just trying to anchor defensively and let them run offensively,” he said.
Chandler’s defensive style doesn’t often lead to gaudy numbers, and he went without a steal or block against the Wolves. But he had a massive effect — just ask Karl-Anthony Towns.
Minnesota’s all-star center shot 5-of-10 against the rest of the Lakers, but went 0-for-6 with a turnover when guarded by Chandler.
And the Lakers’ new big man didn’t give Towns an inch in the post— despite Towns ranking second to only LeBron James in post-up efficiency last season.
Karl-Anthony Towns went 0-for-6 with a turnover when guarded by Tyson Chandler.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) November 8, 2018
Gave him zero ground on these three post-up attempts. pic.twitter.com/vw0Wpv85hu
Chandler’s performance was enough to convince Luke Walton to sub him in with just four minutes left in a close game.
He was arguably the Lakers’ most impactful player in crunch time, stepping up after Derrick Rose hit back-to-back 3-pointers to cut L.A.’s lead to one with a minute left.
Chandler — who had nine rebounds in 23 minutes, including five on the offensive glass — saved the Lakers multiple times by punishing Minnesota’s switching defense.
He had three offensive boards on one possession (one that was credited as a team rebound), extending the Lakers’ chances with every save.
First he overwhelmed Andrew Wiggins after a switch, then beat both Wiggins and Towns for another offensive rebound. With 15 seconds left, he simply outmuscled Towns for one of his signature tap-outs, swatting the ball out to a teammate.
“The way D-Rose was shooting the ball towards the end, we needed every last one of those offensive rebounds,” LeBron said. “It allowed us to win the game.”
What a way for Tyson Chandler to end his first game as a Laker.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) November 8, 2018
Final 50 seconds: Saved the Lakers' possession 3 times by battling on the glass, and used his 7'3" wingspan to successfully challenge Rose's game-winning shot attempt. pic.twitter.com/9kWIgtEEax
And Chandler had one more crucial moment for the Lakers, as Minnesota attempted to win the game.
Down by two with five seconds left, the Wolves gave the ball to Rose, who lost his man on a screen by Towns.
Rose appeared to have plenty of room to shoot, but Chandler recovered and used his 7-foot-3 wingspan to challenge the shot at the last moment, sealing victory for Los Angeles.
“He gave us good minutes,” LeBron said. “Every last one of his minutes was impactful.”
After dressing in the locker room, Chandler returned to the court, where he was met from applause from dozens of family and friends.
The newest Laker is finally home.
“I love this city the way they love me,” Chandler said. “When you’re homegrown from here, going to high school and all of that, and you’ve had these same fans that have been watching — and now you’re representing the jersey that everybody has been cheering for their entire lives — you kinda become one.”