Chandler was presented with his National Basketball Association championship ring by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban before last night’s game, his first appearance at the American Airlines Center since he left Dallas to join the Knicks in December. The Mavericks secured their first NBA title last year by beating the Miami Heat.
“When you feel that kind of appreciation from not only the fans here but also from my former teammates, I was really overwhelmed,” Chandler told reporters. “Obviously you want to come here and get the win, but that’s a tough team we faced and they were able to come out and play and we weren’t.”
Dallas’ second victory in eight games lifted it to 23-17, while New York dropped to 18-20 with the loss. The Mavericks are sixth in the Western Conference, eight games behind the Oklahoma City Thunder. The Knicks are 13 games behind the Eastern Conference-leading Chicago Bulls in eighth place.
The Knicks scored the first 15 points of the fourth quarter to take a one-point lead.
“We’re putting our second team in tough situations, trying to get them to come back in games,” Chandler said. “We’ve got to get more out of our starting unit.”
Dallas began the fourth quarter leading 77-63 and trailed 78-77 with four minutes, 54 seconds remaining before Dirk Nowitzki scored nine of his 28 points in a 14-point run to put the home team ahead for good.
“Our guys got a little tired, I rode them a little bit,” Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni told reporters. “We got up one, then we went down three and their legs looked like they went.”
The win for the Mavericks avenged a 104-97 defeat at New York’s Madison Square Garden on Feb. 19 that ended a six-game winning run for the reigning NBA champions.
Amar’e Stoudemire led the Knicks with 26 points as they lost their third straight road game. Jeremy Lin added 14 points while keeping his turnovers at two, and Steve Novak came off the bench to score 13 points.
“Our second team has been keeping us in ball games,” Lin said. “We couldn’t close it out.”
Since winning seven straight games after Lin took over as the Knicks’ point guard on Feb. 4, New York has gone 3-5 following the reintroduction of Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony, who missed the Mavericks’ visit last month because of a groin injury.
“We honestly have to figure out what we want to do, what we want to try to accomplish this year” Chandler said. “We’re really up and down, we’re sporadic.”
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