OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - Kevin Durant is tired of hearing about Tony Allen’s defense.
Durant scored 36 points, mostly against Allen, in Oklahoma City’s loss to Memphis in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series.
It wasn’t a typical Durant performance, though - he made just 12 of 28 shots, and his usual smoothness and efficiency were absent as the Grizzlies beat the Thunder 111-105 in overtime Monday night to tie the series at a win apiece.
Durant, the NBA’s scoring champion, went on the defensive Tuesday afternoon. When asked about Allen’s effort, he paused five seconds and chuckled before answering.
“He’s good,” Durant said. “He’s good at dodging screens. He’s physical. Everybody plays the same way with me, though.”
When asked about Allen a few minutes later, a more agitated Durant again paused before responding.
“It’s not like I’m just totally getting locked down,” Durant, who is averaging 34.5 points in the series, said. “He’s making it tough. It’s not like I’m just non-existent. I don’t know what you guys have been watching. He’s just making me work, like everybody else will.”
Allen has been getting on people’s nerves for years. The 10-year veteran was on the NBA’s All-Defensive first team in 2012 and 2013 and was on the second team in 2011.
Before the series began, Durant called him one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. Allen gives up 5 inches to the 6-foot-9 Durant, but he makes up for it with toughness, speed, quickness, strength and unpredictability.
Memphis coach Dave Joerger said Allen executed his part of Memphis’ game plan against Durant perfectly in Game 2.
Though Durant scored his points, he never found a rhythm. Tayshaun Prince started the game, but Allen played 35 minutes and got most of the time against Durant. Joerger hopes his stopper can deliver a repeat performance Thursday in Game 3 in Memphis.
“I know it is a cliché, but you just try to make it tough, and that’s what he’s doing,” Joerger said of Allen’s performance against Durant in Game 2. “Trying to make it tough before the catch - that’s important - to make a guy uncomfortable and not get it in spots where he’s comfortable.”
Allen said he’s getting a lot of help. The bigs behind him - 7-1, 265-pound Marc Gasol and 6-9, 260-pound Zach Randolph - clog the lane and erase his mistakes. Gasol was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year in 2013.
“Kevin Durant is the leading scorer in the league, an All-Star, probably one of the greatest in the game right now,” Allen said.
“But it’s just a competition at the end of the day, and basically, the game is not about me. It’s about the Grizzlies coming in here and basically playing grit-and-grind basketball, holding our hat on the defensive end.”