Tony Allen made his showcase for defensive player of the year honors at the Prudential Center Wednesday night.
He also showcased his offensive abilities.
Allen scored 21 points and grabbed five steals in a 105-100 win over the Nets.
The Grizzlies, who lead the NBA in steals, forced 19 turnovers, including three critical ones in the final minutes.
“Tony Allen was all over the floor,” Avery Johnson said.
A 93-92 Nets’ lead turned into a 99-93 deficit as the Grizzlies forced turnovers on three consecutive possessions.
The third came as Deron Williams got caught in the air and tried to force the ball into the corner. The errant pass turned into an Allen layup at the other end.
“We can’t turn the ball over, especially against this team, especially in the critical times of the game,” Johnson said. “I think some of our errant passes cost us the game, but at least we’re trying to move the ball.”
“We had a lot of them. That pretty much cost us the game,” Williams said. “We had a lot of turnovers in the last couple minutes of the game.
“We make a lot of mistakes,” Williams added. “We’re a young team, we do a lot of dumb things, make a lot of mistakes.”
Turnovers were not the only Nets’ problem. They endured a brutal cold spell in the fourth quarter that ultimately cost them the game.
After Anthony Morrow made a jumper to give the Nets a 91-86 lead with 7:11 left in the game, New Jersey did not convert another field goal until there were 26 seconds left to play.
The Nets were down, 103-95, before Humphries finished a dunk to end the streak. The game was out of reach by that point, though.
The Grizzlies did damage on the boards too.
Mareese Speights grabbed a career-high 18 rebounds to go along with 20 points, a season-high.
Memphis outrebounded the Nets, 41-35, and grabbed nine more offensive rebounds.
Rudy Gay added 25 points.
The Nets received 26 points from Deron Williams, but he scored none in the fourth quarter. He also dished out 11 assists.
Seven Nets scored in double-figures, with Morrow pouring in 17 points off the bench.
The Nets were able to hold off the Grizzlies in the third quarter, maintaining a lead heading into the fourth.
Sundiata Gaines’ right wing three-pointer gave the Nets a 78-77 lead after three quarters.
“We did some good things,” Morrow said. “Overall, I think to win you can’t make those mistakes and have those kinds of turnovers against the Memphis Grizzlies.”
Speights banked in a floater as he crashed into the lane to put Memphis ahead, 77-69. The Nets closed the quarter on an 9-0 run, though.
The Nets led, 55-53, at halftime, but the Grizzlies carried momentum into the second half.
Gay beat the second quarter buzzer with a three pointer from the right wing to cap a 12-3 run to close the quarter.
The Nets led, 52-41, with 3:11 left in the quarter when Shelden Williams picked up an offensive rebound and converted the layup.
Deron Williams put on an All-Star performance in the first half, scoring 20 points and dishing out five assists. He went on a personal 8-0 run to give the Nets a 47-41 lead with 4:05 left in the half.
The Nets trailed by as many as 10 points in the first half, but they ended the first quarter on a 15-0 run.
Andre Emmett scored his first points as a Net from the free-throw line with 40 seconds left in the first quarter.
DeShawn Stevenson returned to the starting lineup after missing eight games with a sore right knee.
Jordan Farmar took his place on the injured list, sitting out with a strained groin.