Memphis Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger made a surprising announcement during his pregame media session on Tuesday. Perimeter stopper Tony Allen won't play against in Tuesday night's game against the Utah Jazz at FedEx Forum, as he'll be serving a one-game suspension for "violating team policy," according to Ronald Tillery of the Memphis Commercial Appeal:
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Joerger would not elaborate on why Allen was disciplined.
“It’s an isolated incident that happened. We’ve moved on. It’s over,” Joerger said. “He’s been great for us. I’ve played him more in February than any other time in the season. He’s been great accepting his new role, being some with the second unit and some with the first unit. He’s been locked in. He has had playoff focus. This is an isolated incident.”
(Well, I'm glad we've established that this is an isolated incident.)
The 6-foot-4-inch Allen is still one of the league's premier wing defenders at age 33, and serves as vital piece of a typically stout Grizzlies defense that ranks seventh in the league in points allowed per possession. Allen's numbers haven't changed much over the course of the season — he averaged 8.1 points, 3.8 rebounds, 2.1 steals and 1.5 assists in 25.5 minutes per game through his first 36 appearances, and has averaged 7.9 points, 4.3 rebounds, 1.6 steals and 1.4 assists in 25 minutes per game as a sub over the last 14 games. His role has been substantially altered over the past month and a half, however, as Joerger has shifted him from the starting five to the bench with the Grizzlies prioritizing the integration of mid-January trade acquisition Jeff Green. The former Seattle SuperSonics, Oklahoma City Thunder and Boston Celtics swingman has averaged 12 points, 3.9 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 28.8 minutes per game in 21 appearances as a Grizzly, 17 of them as a starter.
The specific rules Allen violated remain unclear, but the Grizzlies could've used him against Utah's Gordon Hayward. The Butler product's been cold of late, shooting just 35.5 percent shooting from the floor and 20 percent from 3-point range since the All-Star break, but is still in the midst of the best season of his young career, averaging 19.5 points, 4.8 rebounds and 4.2 assists per game.
Allen won't be the only Grizzly sidelined on Tuesday. Star power forward Zach Randolph and backup point guard Beno Udrih will both miss the game due to illness, meaning Joerger will have to shuffle up his rotations a fair amount to help the Grizzlies stave off an upset and draw within 3 1/2 games of the idle Golden State Warriors for the top spot in the Western Conference.
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