Wilson Chandler wasn't instrumental in the New York Knicks' season high-tying three-game win streak last week, and he contributed even less as that run was snapped over the weekend.A move to the bench looks like it got the second-year forward's attention.
Chandler looks to build on a strong performance as a reserve, and the Knicks try to extend their longest home winning streak in nearly two years Wednesday night against the struggling Atlanta Hawks.
Chandler emerged as one of New York's top offensive options early this season, scoring in double figures in 32 of his first 39 games and averaging 14.8 points in that stretch.
Chandler, though, struggled last week, totaling 16 points and 8-for-22 shooting as the Knicks (19-25) won three straight for the first time since Nov. 5-9. The 6-foot-8 DePaul product was then held scoreless for the first time this season in a 116-110 loss at Philadelphia on Saturday.
After getting demoted to the bench by coach Mike D'Antoni, Chandler bounced back with 18 points and seven rebounds while going 6-for-10 from the field to help New York to a 104-98 home win over Houston on Monday night. It was his first game outside the starting lineup since Nov. 5.
"Wilson was terrific tonight," Knicks point guard Chris Duhon said. "He's been great all year, and the way he responded tonight shows the kind of player he is and can be."
Chandler said he wasn't worried about the move to the bench.
"Coach, he's going to make a lot of changes," he said. "If he feels a certain way that things are going to make us win, he's going to make that change."
It certainly seemed like an effective move Monday, when the Knicks won for the first time in 22 games they've trailed after three quarters. They scored 16 of the game's final 20 points to win four straight at Madison Square Garden for the first time since a seven-game run from Jan. 26-March 2, 2007.
"For once we started the fourth quarter down and we won the game," D'Antoni said. "That's a baby step."
While New York is taking baby steps, Atlanta (26-18) appears to be taking steps backward. The Hawks have dropped eight of 13 games this month after winning nine of their last 10 in December.
They looked particularly bad Monday night, when they recorded a season-low point total in a 95-79 loss at Miami.
"We just weren't playing hard," guard Joe Johnson said.
The Hawks missed 13 straight shots and committed 10 turnovers while going more than 13 minutes without a field goal in the first half. They set a franchise record with only 27 points at halftime.
"This game is played in four quarters," coach Mike Woodson said. "And we didn't come to play the first two quarters."
The Hawks hope to rebound from Monday's disappointing outing by continuing their success against the Knicks. Atlanta has won five straight against New York, including 98-95 in the teams' first meeting this season Dec. 5.
With 17 points, Johnson was one of seven Hawks players to score in double figures in that game. He's averaging 27.4 points and 7.1 assists while shooting 50.7 percent from the field in his last 11 games against the Knicks.
Al Harrington, who played two seasons for the Hawks from 2004-06, scored 27 in the Dec. 5 loss before missing a last-second 3-pointer that would've forced overtime.
Chandler had 15 points in that game.