The Memphis Grizzlies beat the Oklahoma City Thunder on Monday night while you were watching Anthony Davis, and we all chalked it up to being a sandwich game (the Thunder beat the Lakers, Heat and Bulls in the last 8 days and have the Heat again Wednesday).
We missed the obvious — Kevin Durant can’t score on Gilbert Arenas.
Okay, maybe that’s not the obvious. But it was a key part of what got Memphis the win, reports the Commercial Appeal.
In case no one noticed, that was Gilbert Arenas guarding and disrupting Durant for long stretches in the game. Yes, that Gilbert Arenas — the one who just signed on to play for the Griz two weeks ago. The Griz got away with Arenas defending Durant most of the second period and weren’t exploited by the matchup. It was a move dictated by Allen and Rudy Gay’s foul trouble, and Arenas’ confidence in his experience.
“He surprised me,” Allen said of Arenas. “A few days ago, we saw Durant play Houston and Arenas said he use to defend him in Washington. He got his chance to defend him tonight and he frustrated Durant. That is the good thing about our team, we can mix it up and mix and match.”
Arenas is playing pretty well in Memphis, blending in more than some (okay, me) expected. Here is what Arenas said on the topic, via Steve Aschburner of NBA.com.
“Right now, whatever the team needs. I’m a role player,” Arenas said after scoring four points on 2-of-7 shooting with six rebounds and two assists in 16:36 minutes after the Bucks. “Just come in and manage the game. Like now, [Mike] Conley was out — if they need scoring, I can put on my scoring cap. I’m just trying to not make a lot of mistakes and hurt us.”
It’s guys like that who make a difference in the playoffs. And Memphis is already a team nobody wants in the playoffs. Gilbert Arenas may no longer be a difference maker, but he could make a difference (if you get the subtle difference).
Then again, next time KD goes up against Arenas it may be revenge mode time. And if KD is in that zone nobody is stopping them.