All it took was the Grizzlies losing by 30 points in the season opener for Mike Conley to discard his mask. The Grizzlies point guard is comfortable, but he’s made it a bit painful for opponents the past two games. Conley scored 22 points, including two clutch baskets in the fourth quarter Saturday night, and guided the Grizzlies to a 101-91 victory over the Brooklyn Nets in FedExForum. “I just don’t need it anymore,” Conley said. “I’ve known for the last two weeks that I can play without.” Conley’s facial injuries have long healed, but he chose to continue wearing the mask as if it were a security blanket. Memphis (2-1) didn’t secure its second straight win until Conley took control late. The Griz led by 16 with seven minutes to play in the fourth. Brooklyn caused Memphis to endure several empty offensive possessions and cut its deficit to 92-84 with 2:57 left. After Griz coach Dave Joerger called for time, Conley calmly connected on a step-back 3-pointer. Conley then hit a floater in the lane that squelched the Nets’ mini-rally. “I thought they were big for our momentum. It easily could have turned if we had not made those plays at the end of the game,” said Conley, who made 7 of 12 field goal attempts, including four 3-pointers. “For us (starters) to come back in and finish the game out was huge.” Zach Randolph finished with 15 points and 13 rebounds for the 444th double-double of this career. With eight assists, Conley finished two shy of his second double-double in as many games. Memphis dropped Brooklyn to 0-3 with the help of the long ball and a larger free-throw disparity. The Grizzlies made 24 free throws, twice as many as the Nets. Although Joerger thought the Griz fell in love with taking 3-pointers, he said their 9-of-23 shooting from beyond the arc came in the flow of good ball movement. Proof of the offensive flow was that the Griz assisted on 26 of their 34 field goals. “A couple of things we look for are free throws and offensive rebounds,” Joerger said. “It’ll be tough for us to win the 3-point battle every night, so where do you make up that difference? For us, it’s offensive rebounds, it’s turnovers and it’s free throw attempts. So if we can win those three categories, it’s a big deal for us.” The Nets made just 3 of 13 3-pointers but shot 48 percent. Bojan Bogdanovic led Brooklyn in scoring with 19 points off the bench. The rebuilding Nets suffered blowout losses to Chicago and San Antonio in their first two games. They kept the deficit within single digits until the Grizzlies put together a 16-7 run that bridged the second and third quarters.
Conley drives Grizzlies past Nets
Memphis Commercial Appeal | Nov 1