Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins predicted the Oklahoma City Thunder would be more physical in Game 2 and gave ample warning to his players.
The Thunder was still able to set the tone and posted a 111-102 victory in Game 2 on Tuesday night inside Oklahoma City Arena to tie the Western Conference semifinal at 1-1.
They were just more aggressive tonight," Hollins said. "It was a classic desperate, more aggressive team and the desperate team usually wins. They were the desperate team in their play, which was a sense of urgency and aggressiveness."
With the victory, the Thunder guaranteed the series will return to Oklahoma City for Game 5 next Wednesday.
There were 50 foul and 67 free throws in Tuesday's contest. The Grizzlies had more rebounds (38-34), including nearly twice as many at the offensive end (13-7), but the Thunder undeniably had more of a defensive presence than in its 114-101 loss in Game 1 on Sunday.
Memphis guard Tony Allen picked up a stat sheet after Tuesday's contest and looked at the personal foul totals of OKC's frontcourt of Serge Ibaka (five), Nick Collison (five) and Kendrick Perkins (four).
"They got 14 fouls," the former Oklahoma State standout said. "They came out and beat us up. That was their plan, to beat us up and attack us and be aggressive and that's what they did.
"That didn't come as a surprise to us. We talked about it before the game even started and said, 'Let's not come out how we did in San Antonio for Game 2,' but we weren't focused as a group and this is the type result that you get."
Power forward Zach Randolph, who had 34 points in Game 1, was held to 15 in Game 2. Center Marc Gasol, who had 20 points in Game 1, had 13 in Game 2.
"They hit first, and give them credit," Gasol said. "We settled a little bit on the jumpers. We got a little bit out of control. We didn't execute the way we usually do. Give them credit for what they did. It's going to be a physical series. We knew that. No one said this was going to be easy."
Will there be a renewed commitment to matching them physically?
"No doubt. No doubt. No doubt," Gasol said. "We've got to be more aggressive. More than before."
Memphis won a physical opening-round series against San Antonio to advance, and maintained that approach against the Thunder on Sunday. Against the Spurs, the Grizzlies won Game 1 at San Antonio, but then lost Game 2.
Asked if Tuesday's game was different than the 93-87 setback in the second game against the Spurs, Allen said, "Most definitely. At least we gave a little effort in Game 2 at San Antonio. Today, I didn't see the effort for 48 minutes, and it showed."
Any thoughts on how to approach Game 3 on Saturday afternoon in Memphis?
"Nah," Allen said with a smile. "That's coach's job. He'll let us know."
Allen said he wasn't angry the Thunder got physical.
"Not me. I like the competition," Allen said. "They got physical. We need to be smarter. You've got to take your hat off to them. They made a big adjustment and now we have to go back to the drawing board and see what adjustments we're going to make.
"Honestly, as a group, I think we came in(to Game 2) and thought we took care of our business and got one (winning Game 1), and didn't come in here with the type of focus of, 'Let's come in here and get two.' That's what it boiled down to."
John Rohde: 475-3099. John Rohde can be heard Monday-Friday from 6-7 p.m. on The Sports Animal Network, including AM-640 and FM-98.1.