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Laker Film Room: Tyson Chandler shines in Lakers debut

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The Lakers desperately needed a backup center, and Tyson Chandler was just what they hoped he’d be in his debut.

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Minnesota Timberwolves v Los Angeles Lakers Photo by Harry How/Getty Images

The Lakers don’t have time to wait. A difficult early-season schedule and a new group of players combined for a 4-6 record through 10 games. While that start wasn’t entirely unexpected, it informs an appropriate sense of urgency as the team looks to capitalize on a more favorable schedule over the next 10. Enter Tyson Chandler, whose serendipitous buyout with the Phoenix Suns allowed the Lakers to fill a gaping hole at the center position. Luke Walton immediately threw him into the fire.

Let’s take a closer look at his immediate impact.

Karl-Anthony Towns likes to borrow Shaquille O’Neal’s “barbecue chicken” line when he feels he’s dominating down low, exemplified by his histrionics after the apparently remarkable feat of dunking on Corey Brewer (?) at Staples Center last season. Chandler had him eating quinoa salad last night, as Towns went 0-6 from the field with a turnover when Chandler was defending him. Towns didn’t even bother to challenge Chandler in the post by the time the fourth quarter rolled around, settling for jumpers instead. Maybe he just lost his appetite.

Chandler saved his best for the final minutes of the game, even as Walton and Rajon Rondo were trying to get him up to speed on sets, coverages, and terminology during timeouts and dead-ball situations. The Lakers’ offense stalled in the last minute of the game, as it often does, and Chandler earned no fewer than three extra possessions to help secure the victory.

Tyson Chandler set jarring screens, rebounded, and played good positional defense. Last night was a repeatable performance that portends well for the Lakers’ chances going forward. It was nice not to have to squint really hard to try to see an NBA-caliber big man out there when JaVale McGee wasn’t on the court.

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