The Memphis Grizzlies have a way of making the NBA hardwood a very uncomfortable place for the opposition.
Late in the fourth quarter of Tuesday night's Game 2, the Grizzlies' Tony Allen spread those uncomfortable feelings across the basketball world.
With Memphis facing a four-point deficit with less than 30 seconds left in regulation, Zach Randolph corralled a loose ball and found a sprinting Allen racing toward the basket. Allen took two steps toward the basket and soared to the rim, but was pulled to the floor by a trailing Manu Ginobili.
Allen hit the deck and scrambled to the fetal position, violently kicking his legs and holding his head.
Concussion, perhaps? He at least had a splitting headache, no doubt the result of a thunderous impact when his head met the floor.
As the referees gathered for a video review to determine if the foul was flagrant, suddenly, the result of his crash landing became clearer. Allen had braced himself for the landing, taking the brunt of the collision on his forearm then rolling over onto his back.
In other words, there simply was no head-to-hardwood meeting. Just a fine acting performance, and one that gave the Grizzlies new life:
On what planet is that a flagrant foul. And they reviewed it, no less. Poor officiating, brilliant acting by Tony Allen— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 22, 2013
Some argued that dramatics aside, the play still warranted the stiff penalty that the Spurs had to endure:
He grabbed him by the arm and pulled him out of midair.— Myles Brown (@mdotbrown) May 22, 2013
Allen himself was adamant the officials were correct with their call:
Tony Allen on whether it was a flagrant foul: "Most definitely. You can't pull me out the air. What did you think?" /reporter doesn't answer— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) May 22, 2013
Allen "recovered" to convert both of his free throws, and Mike Conley added a game-tying jumper just eight seconds later. Tim Duncan misfired on his potential game-winner in the closing seconds, meaning free basketball inside the AT&T Center.
It certainly bordered on bush league, but still drew the praise of at least one former pro:
What a great play by TonyAllen. Flagrant fouls are so often called based on the reaction of the player who was fouled. He sold that one.— Steve Kerr (@SteveKerrTNT) May 22, 2013
Of course, the next video review may not be quite so forgiving to Allen. But if the league office sends him an invoice, the All-Defensive first-teamer should have no trouble finding financial help in covering the damage:
Tomorrow the league will fine Tony Allen for flopping...and for Memphis it was worth every penny.— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) May 22, 2013
Now we're all left to process Allen's ploy in our own minds, respecting the intention (and certainly the result) if not the method chosen:
I hate what Tony Allen did, but acting like he was killed, earning the flagrant on Manu was game changing and genius...— Vince Galloway (@Vince_Galloway) May 22, 2013
But that should be a far simpler mental exercise than what the Grizzlies have to perform.
Despite Allen's thespian gifts and holding San Antonio to just two points over the final eight minutes of regulation, Memphis fell 93-89 in overtime.
The Grizzlies now head home facing a daunting two-game deficit in the Western Conference Finals.