DALLAS – Dirk Nowitzki was sick and Brendan Haywood was hobbled. And because big men No. 4 and 5 on the Dallas Mavericks’ roster are named Brian Cardinal and Ian Mahinmi, it was time for Tyson Chandler to step up.
With 13 points and 16 rebounds in the Mavs’ 86-83 victory over the Miami Heat in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals, Chandler did just that, helping his team even the series at 2-2.
Haywood had replaced Chandler with 1:14 to go in the first quarter, and the Heat immediately went on a 5-0 run. When Miami began the second on a 7-0 run to go up 28-21, with Haywood struggling, Chandler knew he couldn’t afford to sit any longer. So he didn’t even wait for Mavs coach Rick Carlisle to call his name.
“I seen that [Haywood] was just trying to battle it out,” Chandler said, “but I told coach, ‘You have to get me back out there. I will play 48 if I need to.’ “
Chandler didn’t play 48 minutes, but he played a season-high 42:56, including all but 1:59 of the second half. And despite that, he looked to have the most energy of anyone in the fourth quarter.
Four of Chandler’s nine offensive rebounds came in the final six minutes of the game. Only one of those — a Chandler put-back that cut the Heat lead to one point with 5:43 to go — resulted in second-chance points for the Mavs. His other three offensive boards each extended possessions in the final 3 1/2 minutes, giving the Heat fewer opportunities to play catch up.
Overall, it was a huge and timely performance for Chandler, one that Nowitzki called “phenomenal.” The Mavs don’t necessarily need Chandler to score, but he’s got 26 total points in Dallas’ two wins, and 14 in their two losses.
“When I saw [Nowitzki] walking today, he was barely able to talk, I knew I had to have a big night,” Chandler said. “I just told myself what can I do that I haven’t been doing of late. And I felt like I can get out and run, open things up, get on some screen-and-rolls and open myself up on the glass.”