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Tyson Chandler: Injury and flu hurt his defense of Roy Hibbert

Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert grabs a rebound in

Indiana Pacers' Roy Hibbert grabs a rebound in front of Knicks' Tyson Chandler during the first half of Game 6 of an Eastern Conference semifinal. (May 18, 2013) Credit: AP

GREENBURGH, N.Y. - Looking for a reason why Tyson Chandler was outplayed by Indiana's Roy Hibbert?

The Knicks center said his late-season neck injury and bout with the flu sapped him of much-needed strength and rhythm entering the playoffs, and he never felt as if he completely recovered.

"I tried to give the team everything I had," Chandler said Monday after his exit interview with team officials. "I gave them a hundred percent, gave them what I had. Unfortunately, it wasn't enough."

Chandler missed 16 of the Knicks' final 20 regular-season games because of a bulging disc in his neck, and during that time, the flu cost him a dozen pounds.

Trying to regain weight and rhythm during the postseason -- while also banging bodies in the paint -- proved to be too much of an uphill battle for the 30-year-old.

"I wasn't where I wanted to be," Chandler said. "I wish I could have got a couple games in before the playoffs started. I feel like I never really got in a rhythm. But that's just kind of how it went."

But despite his struggles keeping Hibbert at bay during the Eastern Conference semifinal series, Chandler said he doesn't believe he let his team down because of his poor play.

"You can't let the team down if you give them 100 percent," he said. "I gave my teammates everything I had, and I'm fine with that."

A year after winning the NBA's Defensive Player of the Year Award, Chandler didn't look the part in the postseason, especially when he was matched up against Indiana's formidable front line.

Hibbert, the Pacers' 7-2 center, averaged 13.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 3.2 blocks during the six-game series. Chandler averaged 6.2 points, 6.0 rebounds and 1.7 blocks. Hibbert outscored Chandler 30-4 in the final two games.

Chandler's season started on its downhill slope when he hurt his neck while banging into Denver's Corey Brewer on March 13. When he tried to return to the court in early April, his neck injury flared up, so he was shut down until the playoffs.

He said his neck didn't bother him against Indiana but added that he hadn't recovered the rhythm he lost from the missed playing time or the strength that was sapped by the flu.

Chandler said he wished he could have returned to the court sooner but said he couldn't have.

All he's left with are thoughts of what could have been, which he knows is a worthless mental exercise. "I haven't slept the last two days, the last two nights," he said. "Really thinking about what could have been, this and that. But you can't cry over spilled milk. You've got to move on."

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