You couldn't blame the Grizzlies' two-point overtime loss at Houston on Saturday on the Memphis bench, which outscored the Rockets' reserves 28-18.
In the fact, the Griz bench, even without point guard O.J. Mayo, who has four games left to serve on a 10-game NBA suspension for a positive drug test, has been outstanding as of late.
While rookie Greivis Vasquez has done a nice job backing up Mike Conley at the point, and second-year center Hasheem Thabeet has been finding a niche of late as a lane-clogging defender in Memphis' 2-3 zone, the heart of the second unit has been swingman Tony Allen and forward Darrell Arthur.
In the past six games, Arthur is averaging 10 points and 4.2 rebounds, while Allen is averaging 6.8 points, 2.3 rebounds, 1.7 assists and 1.7 steals. And both players seem to play off each other extremely well, because Arthur and Allen respect each other's talents.
"Tony always has great energy, he's always standing up on the bench coaching, and he's great to play with," Arthur said of Allen, the 6-foot-4 seventh-year pro who signed with the Grizzlies as a free agent last July 13. "He always brings energy, and he always knows the scouting report, which is why he reads passes so well and get so many steals."
Allen said his offensive strength, taking the ball to the hoop, is helped by the mid-range jump shot accuracy of the 6-foot-9 Arthur, a third-year power forward who missed the first 50 games last season after right pectoralis surgery just before the start of the regular season.
"His shooting opens up a lot of my game," Allen said of Arthur. "Guards have to contest his jump shot, and when they do that, he can swing it to me as I'm slashing to the basket. It's like a 1-2 punch. Darrell's a great player to be around because he's working on his craft every day."
ROCKETS 95, GRIZZLIES 93 (OT): Memphis built a 14-point first-quarter lead Saturday night in the Toyota Center, a place where it had lost nine straight games. But the Rockets clawed back, thanks to Kevin Martin, who scored a game-high 31 points. Memphis led by eight at the half, but Houston kept banging away while some of the Grizzlies' key players, such as top sub Tony Allen, were getting in foul trouble.
Houston forward Luis Scola missed an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer at the end of regulation. In overtime, though, he had back-to-back buckets to give the Rockets a 93-91 lead, then broke a 93-93 tie with a scoop spin around overmatched Griz defender Darrell Arthur.
The Griz had the ball for the last shot. Rudy Gay missed a 15-foot baseline jumper with 20 seconds left, but Marc Gasol rebounded. Gay, who has six career game-winning shots, never touched the ball in the final seconds, with Mike Conley flinging up an errant 3-pointer to end his awful 2-for-16 shooting night.
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