Early in his postgame remarks, Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger started talking about the guy he believes is hands down the Western Conference Player of the Week. “Player of the Month or something,” Joerger campaigned. The Atlanta Hawks might as well have been a choir singing the same tune in the visitors’ locker room on the other side of FedExForum. Just when the Hawks thought they would rise up and steal a fourth straight win in Memphis, the Grizzlies’ response wasn’t simply clutch. Their answer to adversity now has a proper name: Mike Conley. All you need to know about the Grizzlies’ 108-101 victory over the Hawks early Sunday evening was that Conley was responsible for 23 of Memphis’ first 25 points in the fourth quarter. The Grizzlies’ floor general either made baskets or handed out assists until 31 seconds remained in the decisive period of their second straight victory. “We talked about him before the game,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “How well he has been playing. We have a lot of respect for Mike. He is one of those guards that is underrated, undervalued or under the radar.” It is getting more difficult to claim Conley’s impact as subtle. Conley continued arguably the most productive week of his NBA career in leading the Griz with 21 points, 13 assists and four steals. He posted 30 or more points in each of the two previous games. The Griz blew a 13-point lead with Conley on the bench. The Hawks began connecting on 3-pointers and used a 16-0 run that bridged the third and fourth quarters to wrestle away the momentum and take an 80-77 lead. The game was tied at 77 when Conley returned to replace rookie reserve Nick Calathes with 10:38 left. About 20 seconds later, Conley whipped a pass to James Johnson out of a pick-and-roll and Johnson finished the play with an emphatic slam dunk. The basket was the start of a 16-4 run that allowed the Griz to regain the lead for good.
Conley clutch as Grizzlies beat Atlanta Hawks
Memphis Commercial Appeal | Jan 13