DALLAS _ In a game Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called a “must-win’’ contest, Tyson Chandler showed what all the fuss was about when the Mavs acquired him last summer.
Before Chandler arrived the Mavs had a nasty reputation for being soft as tissue paper. They reluctantly knew it, their fans knew it, and – worst of all -- their opponents knew it and used it to their advantage.
But Monday night that all seemed like a distant memory as Chandler terrorized the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 5 of the opening round of the playoffs. Chandler popped in 14 points and snatched a career playoff-high 20 rebounds -- including a career playoff-high 13 offensive rebounds -- as the Mavs prevailed 93-82..
It was the most offensive rebounds in a playoff game since Shaquille O’Neal grabbed 14 in 1995 against the Chicago Bulls while he was playing for the Orlando Magic. Chandler’s offensive rebound total also was the most by a Maverick since Roy Tarpley collected 11 against the Los Angeles Lakers on May 27, 1988.
In other words, Chandler played like a man possessed and chased every loose ball like it was a piece of meat.
“He had great activity at both ends,’’ coach Rick Carlisle said. “His offensive rebounding was phenomenal – 13 – and contributed a lot to our second chance points.
“Every time he tipped one out and we get it back and the crowd gets into it, it makes a huge difference. He’s been giving us great energy, but he hadn’t bee n ale to get his scoring going (and) tonight he was able to do that.’’
Chandler had seven of his rebound s in the fourth period when the Mavs salted the game away. And he even kept his cool once when he walked away and held his arms triumphantly after he got tangled under the basket with Gerald Wallace.
The big question for Chandler and the Mavs now is can they close out the Blazers in Portland in Game 6, which starts Thursday night (time TBD).
“We have to play the same way we did tonight at home and be aggressive,’’ Chandler said. “And we’ve got to get them on their heels early and take the crowd out of the game, and we have to finish the game.’’