OKLAHOMA CITY — Tony Allen thought it might have been out of desperation that he ended up guarding Kevin Durant in crunch time.
Whatever it was, it worked out perfectly for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Mike Conley scored 26 points and fueled a late Memphis run while Allen was harassing Durant, and the Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 99-93 on Tuesday night to tie the Western Conference semifinals at one.
Conley hit a 3-pointer from the left wing with 1:58 left to put the Grizzlies ahead, and Allen made it stick with his defense on the three-time scoring champion who had made back-to-back baskets in the final minute to put Oklahoma City on top to stay in Game 1.
This time, Durant missed his final three shots and fell to the floor while committing a turnover against Allen as Memphis reeled off 10 straight points to claim home-court advantage in the series.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.
“He’s a prolific scorer. He’s the best scorer in the league, but the thing I can do out there is probably just cause havoc out there the best that I can,” Allen said.
He certainly did that.
After Conley’s go-ahead 3, Allen went flying to try and block a 3-point response by Durant. It forced Durant to hesitate before he fired an off-target shot, and Conley was able to tack on an 18-foot jumper for a 94-90 Memphis lead with 1:04 to play.
A double-team forced Durant to give the ball up on the next possession, but the Thunder got another chance after rebounding Reggie Jackson’s missed 3-pointer. Durant then went to back in from the left wing against Allen, who pulled away and allowed Durant to fall down. Allen tipped the ball to Marc Gasol for another stop.
“Once he got it, I knew he was going to try to get some contact. The first thing I didn’t want to do was get a foul, so I backed back, he kind of lost his footing and fell and I was able to just run toward the ball and get a deflection,” said Allen, a member of Boston’s NBA title team in 2009.
“You’ve just got to be ready for those types of situations.”
Maybe as a decoy, coach Lionel Hollins had said after Game 1 that he wouldn’t deploy Allen against the taller Durant because the match-up hadn’t gone well during the regular season. Another defensive whiz, Tayshaun Prince, got the primary assignment guarding Durant, along with Quincy Pondexter.
But it was Allen who got the key stops.
“I assume we just got desperate. We just tried some new things on him, put fresher bodies on him,” Allen said.
Durant still ended up with 36 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists. In six games since fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook was lost for the playoffs because of knee surgery, Durant is averaging 35.5 points, 10.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists.
“I can carry as much as coach needs me to carry,” Durant said. “I made those shots last game. I missed them this game. I’m just going to continue to keep taking them.”
KNICKS 105, PACERS 79
NEW YORK — Carmelo Anthony scored 32 points, 16 during a 30-2 New York onslaught in the second half, and the Knicks beat the Indiana Pacers 105-79 to even the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal series at 1-1.
“I think for the most part, from the start of the game and throughout the whole game, I think we played with a sense of urgency today,” Anthony said. “We played the way we’ve been playing as far as competing at the highest level.”
Iman Shumpert added 15 points, including a sensational follow dunk in the first half, as the Knicks turned a close game into a rout over the final 15 minutes.
Paul George scored 20 points for the Pacers, who had a two-point lead when coach Frank Vogel called timeout with a little more than three minutes left in the third quarter.
By the time the Pacers got on the board in the final period, the Knicks had opened a 26-point advantage.
“We kept getting stop after stop and then we would rebound the ball and get it up and our offense began to flow like old times,” Knicks coach Mike Woodson said. “It was kind of nice to see.”
Game 3 is Saturday at Indianapolis.
It was New York’s largest margin of victory in the postseason since a 109-75 rout of Detroit on April 24, 1992.