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Randolph, Allen power Grizzlies past Thunder
By ADRIAN SAINZ, Associated Press Wednesday, Jan 5, 2011

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP)—Tony Allen(notes) put together one of his best games of the season one day after he got into an altercation with teammate O.J. Mayo(notes) on a Memphis Grizzlies charter flight.

Allen scored 16 of his season-high 19 points in the second half, including two late free throws that helped Memphis hold off the Oklahoma City Thunder 110-105 on Tuesday night.

After struggling early in the game, including three missed layups, Allen gave the Grizzlies a much-needed boost. He hit two 3-pointers after making just one all season, and had three steals and two blocked shots.

“He missed a lot of layups today, and he’s probably killing himself about that,” teammate Rudy Gay(notes) said. “Other than that, he played great. Knocked down shots and played great defense.”

After the game, the Grizzlies issued a statement acknowledging that Allen and Mayo got into a “brief altercation” on the team’s flight to Memphis on Monday.

“The club considers the matter closed and will not comment further,” general manager Chris Wallace said in the release.

According to a Yahoo! Sports report citing unidentified sources, Mayo owed Allen money following a card game and became increasingly angry toward Allen when asked to settle the debt. Several players eventually had to separate the teammates.

Before Memphis issued its statement, Allen lamented the missed layups but said he buckled down on defense to atone for his sloppy offensive play early on.

“I’ve got to start dunking,” Allen said. “There ain’t no excuse. … I’m going to start finishing.”

The Grizzlies were thin at shooting guard, making Allen’s performance even more important. Mayo, a reserve who is averaging 13.2 points, did not play due to bronchitis. Rookie guard Xavier Henry(notes) missed the game with a sore knee.

“I’m just going to play my role, and stay within the realm of things,” said Allen, who signed with Memphis this past offseason. “Just pretty much sticking to the blueprint—that’s defense, get my energy off the defensive end, and things will start falling offensively. That’s what happened tonight.”

Zach Randolph(notes) led the Grizzlies with 31 points, including 13 in the fourth quarter, and 16 rebounds. Gay scored 27.

Memphis won the rebounding battle 42-31, including a 12-3 advantage on the offensive glass.

“I’m just proud of the way the guys played,” Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins said. “They showed a lot of toughness and a lot of fortitude.”

Randolph’s two free throws gave the Grizzlies a 106-101 lead with 49 seconds left, but Kevin Durant(notes) responded with two from the line to trim the deficit to three.

Grizzlies center Marc Gasol(notes) missed two free throws with 25 seconds remaining. Russell Westbrook(notes) made a layup, but Allen’s two free throws with 15 seconds left gave Memphis a 108-105 lead.

Durant missed a deep 3-pointer on the next possession and Randolph sealed the win with two more foul shots.

“We couldn’t get important stops that we wanted to late in the game,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. “This team is a big team on the boards.”

Durant and Westbrook each scored 28 points for Oklahoma City. James Harden(notes) had 17.

“We had the game. We played hard all the way through,” Durant said. “I made some bad mistakes in the fourth quarter. It’s going to be tough for me to sleep tonight.”

The Thunder are 10-2 following a loss. They were coming off their worst defeat of the season, a 101-74 setback against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Grizzlies improved to 10-6 at home, but are near the bottom of the NBA in attendance. Even with Durant in town, the announced crowd was 12,765.

Oklahoma City took a 67-62 lead in the third quarter on a 3-pointer by Durant at the 7:55 mark. But the Grizzlies responded with an 8-0 surge capped by Mike Conley’s(notes) layup. Memphis carried a 79-77 lead into the fourth.

Gay’s right-handed dunk with 8 seconds left in the second sent the teams into halftime tied at 55. Randolph and Gay led Memphis with 16 points in the first half.

NOTES: Harden has scored in double figures in a career-high 12 straight games. … Memphis is 10-11 against teams with .500 records or better. … Randolph has donated money to help with utilities payments for 100 Memphis families who were behind on their bills.

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R. Westbrook Russell Westbrook
10-20,  28 Pts
4 Rebs, 7 Assists
Z. Randolph Zach Randolph
11-20,  31 Pts
16 Rebs, 0 Assists

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Tuesday, Jan 4