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VOL. 129 | NO. 80 | Thursday, April 24, 2014

Allen, Grizz Ready for Thunder’s Adjustments

By Don Wade

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If Kevin Durant is Superman then Tony Allen is … that’s right, kryptonite. At least that was the contention in at least one Internet headline after Allen rendered Durant mortal in the Grizzlies’ overtime win in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series at Oklahoma City.

Tony Allen and the Memphis Grizzlies will bring a suffocating defense to Thursday’s Game 3 matchup with Oklahoma City at FedExForum.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

The following day in OKC, Durant was asked – repeatedly – about Allen’s defense on him. In an Associated Press story Durant was described as pausing several seconds, laughing a little, and then quoted as saying of Allen, “He’s good. He’s good at dodging screens. He’s physical. Everybody plays the same way with me, though.”

See what Durant did there? Gave the compliment and then took most of it back. And he did score 36 points in Game 2, even if he did have to hoist 28 shots to do it, making only 12 (albeit a pretty respectable 5-for-12 from 3-point range).

The series is tied 1-1 as the Thunder and Grizzlies meet in Game 3 at FedExForum Thursday night. And there is much to consider when contemplating how things will play out, but for now the Allen-Durant narrative carries the day.

“I know 90 percent of the offense is ran through him (Durant) and not the other guy (point guard Russell Westbrook),” Allen said Wednesday before the Grizzlies held practice. “All I can do is just stay alert on Kevin Durant, each 24 seconds they get it, and be ready to compete. I’ve got guys like Marc Gasol and Z-Bo (Zach Randolph) being my eyes behind my head. It makes my job a little comfortable knowing I’ve got those guys.”

Durant was on target, by the way, in saying that Allen is good at “dodging” screens.

“Tony’s just hard to screen,” Memphis coach Dave Joerger said. “He does a great job of making you think he’s going to come through your body and so you move the screen and he slips in.”

Thunder coach Scott Brooks made a reference to the Grizzlies (Allen) putting their hands on Durant, but Joerger added, “I wouldn’t say he’s mugging him.”

The Thunder’s Kendrick Perkins played with Allen in Boston. He told OKC media on Tuesday: “He don’t stop. He’s going to keep coming.”

That’s what everyone understands about Allen. But even a long-time teammate such as Mike Conley is at a loss to fully translate The Grindfather into a language the rest of the world can understand.

“I’d never be able to explain Tony Allen, what drives him, what make him go,” Conley said. “But I can tell you we love him, we love having him on this team. His fire, his enthusiasm. All his crazy plays, those are game-winning plays that we need.”

Allen, though not starting, played 35 minutes in Game 2. Gasol was pushing 46 minutes – out of a possible 53 – and guard Courtney Lee played 42 and Randolph was close to 41. Conley would have played more than his 39, but veteran Beno Udrih was strong off the bench with 14 points.

Even so, the Grizzlies welcomed the two days off between Game 2 and Game 3.

“I can’t speak for everybody, but rest is good,” swingman Mike Miller said.

“We’ve been playing 20 down with our record all season,” Joerger said on Tuesday when he gave the players the day off. “So it’s good to relax and recharge.”

Joerger fully expects the Grizzlies will see some different looks and adjustments from the Thunder Thursday night and not just those inspired by the coaching staff. Superman will straighten his cape and make a few changes, too.

“He, himself, is going to make adjustments,” Joerger said. “He’s a great player.”

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