March 13, 2012. The Lakers are playing the Memphis Grizzlies.
Memphis entered the game having won 10 of 12 games. The Grizzlies had been in control most of the night up to this point but the situation was nervously close. The Grizzlies lead had shrunk to five points and the Lakers were on the move.
2:28 left in regulation. Enter Tony Allen. Tony had scored 18 points so far in the game despite only playing around 18 minutes. He also had 3 steals and 4 assists. He was having a good game.
2:11 Andrew Bynum scores
1:47 Mo Speights misses
1:32 Kobe Bryant hits an open three when Tony Allen went to double another player
1:10 Marc Gasol misses
0:50 Pau Gasol scores on an assist from Tony Allen, Grizzlies Time Out. Tony Allen leaves the game and doesn’t return.
The Grizzlies lose in double OT. The team has gone 1-3 since Tony was benched against the Lakers and is in danger of not only losing home court advantage in the playoffs but missing the playoffs entirely.
This blog is not to place blame on Tony Allen.
On the contrary, I point to this series of events as a possible turning point for the franchise because of how Hollins treated Allen of late and how the team has responded to it.
Tony Allen is an emotional player and that emotion has changed the Grizzlies from a talented but underachieving team to one of the better franchises in the league. However, with O J Mayo’s contract situation looming, and now the Gilbert Arenas signing, keeping this emotional player happy needs to be a focus of the franchise. When Tony gets out of sorts the team gets out of sorts and right now.
Consider this: Tony Allen’s minutes played in the last four games: 21, 19, 28, 21. Guess which game the Grizzlies won?
Consider this: From February 14th until March 9 Tony Allen averaged 29.4 minutes a night, a span of 10 games where the Grizzlies went 9-1. Since that time Tony has averaged 21.3 minutes and the Grizzlies have gone 2-4 and in one of those wins Tony played 28 minutes.
Consider this: Last season the Grizzlies were 19-7 in games where Tony Allen played at least 25 minutes. This season the team is 17-8 when Tony plays 25 or more minutes.
So why isn’t Tony getting more minutes? Is Hollins only upset with him for leaving Kobe alone for the game tying three point shot? Probably not since Allen’s minutes were being curtailed prior to the Lakers game. Tony has troublesome knees. Perhaps Hollins prefers to rest Tony for the playoffs. Tony did miss three games in February to a sore knee after all.
Whatever the reason and whatever the case, the Grizzlies need Tony Allen in the game. Whatever spat Tony and Hollins have had needs to be put into the past. Judging from Allen’s tweets of late he is not injured and wants to play more. Hollins needs to see to it that he gets those minutes, even with Arenas joining the team.