OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — The masked man came to the rescue for the Memphis Grizzlies.
Mike Conley returned just eight days after having facial surgery to score 22 points, and the Grizzlies used a smothering defensive effort to beat the Golden State Warriors 97-90 on Tuesday night, evening the Western Conference semifinals 1-1.
“My eyesight was pretty good. I didn’t have too many times where I felt like my vision was impaired by looking too fast or the mask getting in the way,” Conley said. “It does get hot. I had to open it up a few times and let the sweat come down and let the steam out a little bit.”
Wearing the clear mask to protect his swollen face and red left eye, Conley stole the spotlight from newly minted MVP Stephen Curry. He made his first four shots to get the Grizzlies going, and Memphis did the rest on defense.
Zach Randolph had 20 points and seven rebounds, and Marc Gasol and Courtney Lee scored 15 points each to help the Grizzlies end Golden State’s 21-game home-winning streak. The Warriors dropped to 42-3 this season at rowdy Oracle Arena, losing for the first time at home in more than three months.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.
9:59 PM @JasonAppelbaum1 — Warriors down 7 with 3:15 fans on their feet. Hope. Did @ThompsonScribe call time of death prematurely? #dubnation @kron4news
9:57 PM@JasonAppelbaum1 — Warriors 20 turnovers to 16 assists. Any chance they have an MVP hangover? #dubnation @kron4news
9:26 PM @jrstone4 — Warriors 20 turnovers to 16 assists. Any chance they have an MVP hangover? #dubnation @kron4news
9:32 PM @JasonAppelbaum1 — Curious decision by Kerr to leave @andrewbogut on bench so long. Curry single handedly keeping @warriors in this one #DubNation @kron4news
9:10 PM @jrstone4 — Crowd wants to get loud but Warriors still struggling…@kron4news
8:48 PM @JasonAppelbaum1 — Why are @warriors down 11 at half? 10 turnovers, Green early foul trouble & Klay ice cold with 5 pts on 2-9 shooting #dubnation @kron4news
8:37 PM @JasonAppelbaum1 — Mike Conley takes an inadvertent Draymond Green hand to his face. Looked to be in pain but Conley staying in game
7:57 PM @JasonAppelbaum1 — Officiating crew of Foster, Kennedy and Phillips bombarded with “refs you suck” for the 2nd time tonight.
8:28 PM @JasonAppelbaum1 — Conley red hot with the mask scoring 9 of the @memgrizz first 14 points. 14-12 Memphis midway thru 1st Q.
OAKLAND, Calif. (AP/KRON) — Memphis point guard Mike Conley started for the Grizzlies in Tuesday night’s Game 2 against the Golden State Warriors after missing the previous three playoff games.
“I’m going to give it a go,” Conley said after testing himself in pregame warmups. “I’m very excited.”
Despite playing with a protective mask following surgery for broken bones in his face, Conley made his first four shots and seemed quite at ease for the Grizzlies.
Conley sustained multiple facial fractures in the first round against Portland. He was elbowed by CJ McCollum in Game 3 and had surgery April 27. He sat out the last two games against the Trail Blazers and the opening loss to the Warriors on Sunday despite taking part in warmups with the mask.
But after participating in a scrimmage for about 15 minutes on Monday and testing the mask again before the start of Game 2, Conley said he was ready to give it a shot with his team trailing the Western Conference semifinals 1-0.
But Conley was not hit in the face at all in practice so he is unsure how he will handle that if it happens in the game. He also said it may take some time to adjust to the mask in a game and running up and down the court after sitting out the past week and a half.
“It was a little challenging,” Conley said. “The first time going up and down can be a little tough on everybody. I’ll go out and do what I can do and see how my wind feels.”
After being bothered by lights and sounds shortly after the injury, Conley said that is no longer a factor.