GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) — Tyson Chandler, the catalyst for the New York Knicks’ defensive improvement, has been voted the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year.

Chandler beat out Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka and three-time champion Dwight Howard of Orlando to become the first Knicks player to win the award.

The Knicks ranked in the NBA’s top 11 teams in both opponents’ field goal percentage and points allowed. They gave up an average of 94.7 points, an improvement of 11 per game from the 105.7 they surrendered in 2010-11, when they tied for 27th in the league.

Chandler received 311 points, including 45 first-place votes, from a panel of 121 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the US and Canada. Ibaka, the league leader with 3.65 blocked shots per game, had 41 first-place votes and 294 points.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.