OKLAHOMA CITY - Wilson Chandler, the quietest player on the Knicks, spoke up in the locker room after Saturday night's loss in Houston and apologized to his teammates.
For what? The third-year swingman had 17 points and shot 8-for-13 against a mass of resistance known as Shane Battier. But for Chandler, the statistic that antagonized him more than Battier's defense was a team-high five turnovers. And that's why he's considered a building block for this franchise.
"It's a learning experience," Chandler said after practice Sunday at Ford Center, "so I just go into the next game and play solid."
The next game presents a sort of reversal of roles. It is Chandler's turn to be the stopper; Mike D'Antoni will use him primarily against forward Kevin Durant, who matched a season high with 40 points in the Oklahoma City Thunder's victory over the Pacers on Saturday. Durant's average of 28.7 points per game ranked fourth in the NBA before yesterday's action.
Chandler said Durant is "in the category of Dwyane Wade, LeBron and them guys. You've got to treat him like one of them guys."
Durant has been a challenge for everyone in the NBA, especially recently. He has scored at least 25 points in the last 10 games and at least 30 in eight of those games. It's no surprise that the Thunder is 7-3 in that span.
Durant hasn't been held to fewer than 25 points since Dec. 19, when he had 13 against Houston and - who else? - Battier, whose defensive PhD is outlined in the book "The Art of a Beautiful Game" by Sports Illustrated's Chris Ballard.
Chandler could one day be a Defensive Player of the Year candidate like Battier, but his skill at the other end of the floor - before Saturday, Chandler had averaged 22.4 points and shot 54.1 percent in the previous five games - has him hoping to emulate another of the league's noted defensive specialists.
"One day," he said, "I want to be kind of like Ron Artest."
Preferably without the quirks.
D'Antoni, who has utilized Jared Jeffries as the catalyst of the zone defense, also has put a great deal of faith in Chandler's ability to defend all five positions on the floor. D'Antoni has used Chandler against everyone from Shaquille O'Neal to Chris Paul. And Chandler generally has handled the job so well that when asked whom he wouldn't put Chandler on, D'Antoni replied, "Nobody."
Notes & quotes: Al Harrington has missed the last two games with a left calf strain and did not practice Sunday, but D'Antoni said he is expected to be ready for tonight's game against the Thunder.