Willis Reed was watching from his Louisiana home Monday night as Tyson Chandler recorded 20 or more rebounds for the third straight game, becoming the first Knicks player to do so since Reed had accomplished the feat during their first championship campaign of 1969-70.

Reed catches many games and clearly believes in Mike Woodson’s Knicks as they continue the elusive chase for the franchise’s first title in 40 years.

“I think they’ve got all the pieces to be a force to be reckoned with,” Reed told the Daily News. “You have some other great teams out there, especially the Heat in the East, but every night (the Knicks) have shown the capacity to score and to compete with anyone. If they can continue to do that and defend consistently, they have to be considered contenders.”

Reed, 70, knows what it takes to be a champion. The seven-time All-Star and longtime league executive was named MVP in each of the Knicks’ two championship runs. The first was marked by the Captain’s legendary emergence from the Madison Square Garden tunnel for a surprise starting appearance in Game 7 of the 1970 Finals against the Lakers after he had sat out the previous game with a torn leg muscle.

“All these years later,” Reed said, “that’s still something I get asked about all the time.”

Asked for his thoughts on the current Knicks, who lead the Atlantic Division with a 31-15 record entering Wednesday’s game in Washington, Reed singled out the addition of several veterans — including Jason Kidd — as well as the maturation of J.R. Smith, the team-wide ability to shoot three-pointers and the seamless return of Amar’e Stoudemire to the rotation as key reasons for their improvement.

“And I haven’t even mentioned Carmelo (Anthony) yet, who really is playing great,” Reed added. “He looks to me like he’s figured out what he needs to do, and how to really trust in (his teammates) this season. I’ve been very impressed by him.”

Reed was the Hornets’ VP of basketball operations when New Orleans obtained Chandler from the Bulls in 2006.

“I thought it was great. I’m a big Tyson fan. We had him here (in New Orleans) and I really like him as a person and as a player,” Reed said. “It’s not just the amount of rebounds, but he gets big offensive rebounds. And he’s great at tapping the ball out; he’s very good at the alley-oop that they do and what’s his field-goal percentage, like 70%? I’ll take that any time. . . . I was happy to see him get it and also that he got named (to the All-Star team) for the first time.”

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