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VOL. 131 | NO. 14 | Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Grizzlies Notebook: Conley ‘In Rhythm’ In 1st Game Back

By Don Wade

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Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley had a simple goal for his first game back: “I just wanted to not mess up anything, to keep everybody involved and still pick and choose my spots to be aggressive.”

Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley returned to the lineup (sore left Achilles) to score 15 points and dish out 10 assists in a 101-99 victory over New Orleans in the annual MLK Day game on Monday, Jan. 18.

(AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

He posted a double-double (15 points, 10 assists, 0 turnovers) in the Grizzlies’ 101-99 victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Monday afternoon, Jan. 18, at FedExForum.

Conley missed six games with a sore left Achilles and, as always, has been battling assorted other nagging injuries. The Achilles, however, is especially difficult for a player who when slicing through tight spaces for layups prompts a “beep-beep” (in homage to the Road Runner) at Grizzlies home games.

Memphis coach Dave Joerger started Conley but held him to 28 minutes.

“I was just trying to play him in short bursts,” Joerger said. “Mike was fantastic.”

“He was in rhythm,” said center Marc Gasol.

Pretty amazing considering Conley said he hadn’t done any full-contact practice or really tried to go full-out before playing Monday. The Achilles warmed up as he played, he said, but was pretty sore after the game.

Even though he’s back on the court, he said he will continue to wear a boot on the left foot between games to give the foot extra rest and will try to play on as best he can.

“Can’t really heal that up to summertime,” he said.

The Grizzlies (24-19) moved five games over .500 for the first time this season. They also went 5-1 in their season-long six-game homestand. They play at Denver and Minnesota this week before returning home for a Monday, Jan. 25, game vs. Orlando that starts a three-game home stretch.

“I think you’ll see us march on,” said shooting guard Courtney Lee.

Monday’s victory, at least for the moment, also nudged them a half-game ahead of Dallas for the fifth seed in the Western Conference. Conley says they still are aiming to finish top four in order to secure home-court advantage in the first round.

And there’s a lot of season left.

“We’re just hunting down anybody in front of us,” Conley said.

Last Monday marked the 14th Annual Martin Luther King Jr. Day game in Memphis. Former NBA players Spencer Haywood and Jalen Rose and the WNBA’s Tamika Catchings received the 11th Annual National Civil Rights Museum Sports Legacy Award.

“To be in this city obviously means a lot,” said New Orleans coach Alvin Gentry. “This is the place where (Dr. King) was assassinated. I told our guys that everyone should take time to go down to the museum. You can learn so much.”

The Grizzlies were at the Civil Rights Museum on Sunday for various festivities.

“Saw where he died,” said Tony Allen. “Obviously, Martin Luther King paved the way for guys like myself to have the opportunity to be around now.”


4: Number of Grizzlies who scored exactly 16 points vs. New Orleans: Gasol, Lee, and Jeff Green and Matt Barnes off the bench.

7-0: The Grizzlies’ record when making more 3-pointers than their opponents this season. They had eight to the Pelicans’ six on Monday.

9: Gasol’s double-doubles this season after going 16 and 10 vs. New Orleans.

19-0: The record for Memphis when Barnes finishes with a positive +/- rating. He was +2 vs. the Pelicans.

30: The number of 2016 U.S. Olympic men’s basketball team finalists, of which Conley is one.

49-4: The Grizzlies’ NBA-best record since the start of last season when scoring at least 100 points.

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