Tyson Chandler didn't expect to play so many minutes in his first game back from injury. The fact he did is the first good news in quite a while for the New York Knicks.
With their starting center finally healthy, the Knicks will try to win consecutive games for only the second time this season when they host the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday.
Chandler logged over 36 minutes and finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three blocks to help the Knicks (8-17) beat Milwaukee 107-101 in double-overtime Wednesday.
It was the first game since Nov. 5 for Chandler, who was sidelined by a non-displaced fracture of his right fibula. The Knicks won two of their first three without him before suffering an overall nine-game skid. They also lost seven in a row at home in his absence.
"I was willing to do whatever it took to get a win," said Chandler, who had five boards on the offensive end. "I told coach, don't put me on a minute restriction. Whatever you feel like you need or whenever you need me out there, just keep me out there."
It's hard to speculate as to whether Chandler's injury was the biggest reason for the Knicks' struggles - they opened 1-3 with him in the lineup - but planting the 2012 Defensive Player of the Year back in the lane is definitely a plus. The Knicks are second to last in the league with 39.0 rebounds per game.
Carmelo Anthony scored 29 points, Beno Udrih added a season-high 21 and J.R. Smith had 19 for the Knicks, who are still missing point guard Raymond Felton.
"Tyson came back strong," Anthony said. "Just his presence out there. His awareness out there on the court, how to be aggressive, knowing when to be aggressive, when not to - his comeback was big for us."
The Knicks, who continue to rely heavily on the 3-pointer, took a season-high 41 against the Bucks. Smith took 17, the third time in the last five years he's attempted at least that many in a regular-season game. No other player has done it once during that span.
New York, which won back-to-back games Dec. 5 and 6, has an opportunity to gain some steam against Memphis and Orlando before a tough home matchup with surging Oklahoma City on Christmas Day.
The Grizzlies (10-15) have also struggled since losing their own big man and defensive player of the year to injury.
Memphis was 7-5 heading into a game against San Antonio on Nov. 22. Center Marc Gasol suffered a sprained MCL in the first quarter of that loss and the Grizzlies have dropped nine of 12 since, including their last five.
Gasol, who won the defensive player award last season, was averaging 16.0 points and 7.1 rebounds and is expected back in January.
The Grizzlies, who had won five straight road games before losing at New Orleans last Friday, had their overall skid extended with a 105-91 defeat at Dallas on Wednesday.
Tayshaun Prince missed his first game this season with a sore left knee, and Memphis was also without point guard Mike Conley. It dressed only 10 players for the game.
Tony Allen led the Grizzlies with 16 points and matched a career high with 11 rebounds - 10 on the offensive end - but he left in the fourth quarter because of a cut on his pinkie that required three stitches.
"I'm going to try to play (Saturday)," Allen said. "I don't want to sit out and do all that behind-the-scenes treatment."
Conley, leading the team with 18.2 points and 6.3 assists per game, is expected to return against the Knicks.