Allen is down, Grizzlies are out 

OAKLAND — There would be no obstruction this time, no way for Tony Allen to stand in front of the Warriors, either literally or metaphorically. He came out for Game 5 of the Western Conference semifinals in a uniquely Tony Allen-ish outfit: a red polo shirt buttoned to the top beneath a blue blazer. He was bothered, according to Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger, by a sore left hamstring he'd tweaked a couple of games ago.

Maybe the Grizzlies have finally been beaten down physically by a younger, quicker Warriors team after a 98-78 loss Wednesday put them down 3-2 in the best-of-seven series. Maybe the presence of Allen on the court wouldn't have made a difference, as his wayward 3-point shooting early in Game 4 proved he can sometimes be as much a liability as a strength for his team. But without the player who has been their spiritual inspiration during this series — without the oddly intense fellow who had created a pair of memes over the past week by repeatedly shouting "First-team All-Defense," and by drawing the wrath of the Oracle Arena crowd for walking in front of a junior dancer during Memphis's last visit here — the Grizzlies gave way meekly to the Warriors.

"We can't use that as an excuse," Memphis guard Vince Carter said. "I refuse to let that be an excuse."

Still Joerger admitted that Allen's defense on Klay Thompson had been crucial, and without him around, Thompson must have felt like he'd been released from a stint in prison cell next to the most bizarre roommate imaginable. After missing his first four shots, Thompson seemed to relish his newfound liberation: He made seven of his next 12, and finished with a game-high 21 points.

Allen is not the only Memphis player who's been bothered by injuries. This is a Grizzlies team that relies on physicality, but it's getting harder and harder to do so without a requisite threat on the perimeter to complement Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol. Mike Conley, the primary reason the Grizzlies stole away with Game 2 here, is still hampered by a facial fracture and a host of other physical problems. He put up 13 points Wednesday, but fatigue has been a constant issue, particularly on defense against Stephen Curry, who exploded for 12 first-quarter points after the Warriors got off to a slow start.

It may be that the Grizzlies have little chance to win this series even with Allen in the lineup, but it would appear that they have almost no chance without Allen coming back in Game 6. Joerger implied that this was a possibility, that Allen might be able to make it back in time for that game — given his intensity, it would be hard to imagine him missing an elimination game.

"He's the kind of guy who will do anything he can to get out there," Joerger said. "He's a warrior. He plays with his heart every single night. Those kinds of things help your team go, 'Yeah, you know what?' We can get this done."

But perhaps it's already too late.

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Michael Weinreb

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