Grizzlies and Hawks win to square both NBA West series

Memphis’ Mike Conley returned just eight days after having facial surgery to lead the Grizzlies to a rare 97-90 win at Golden State on Tuesday to square their NBA Western Conference semifinal series 1-1.

Atlanta too put its series against Washington on an even keel with a comfortable home-court victory.

Conley, wearing a clear mask to protect his swollen face and red left eye, stole the spotlight from newly minted league MVP Stephen Curry. He made his first four shots to get the Grizzlies going, finished with 22 points, and Memphis did the rest on defense.

“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.”

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 on Saturday in Memphis.

“Tremendous heart,” Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger said of Conley’s effort. “He gave us an extra element.”

Memphis scored the final nine points of the first half to take a 50-39 lead. It was only the second time this season the Warriors were held under 40 points in the first half.

When the Warriors started to rally in the fourth quarter, Conley came through again. He made a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 90-80 lead with 2:11 left, silencing the sea of golden yellow shirts for good.

Curry collected 19 points, six assists and five rebounds but had little help from backcourt teammate Klay Thompson, who was smothered by Allen’s aggressive play. The Warriors had 20 turnovers and shot just 41.9 percent, including 23.1 percent from 3-point range. The Grizzlies had 13 steals.

“We lost our poise tonight. We were in such a rush,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said.

The Warriors had won their first five games in these playoffs, including a sweep of New Orleans in the opening round, and were riding the good vibes of Curry’s crown.

Curry received the MVP trophy during an on-court ceremony just before tipoff. He said it was “weird” having that ceremony so close to game time, but did not think it was the reason the Warriors lost. Instead, he chalked that up to the team’s 6-for-26 shooting on 3s.

“We’re not going to overreact to one bad shooting night,” Curry said.

Atlanta capitalized on the absence of Washington’s John Wall to beat the Wizards 106-90 and level the series 1-1.

Wall, who finished the series opener with an injured left hand, was scratched just before Game 2, shortly after the Wizards insisted he would play. Ramon Sessions did an admirable job filling in, leading his team with 21 points, but Washington lost for the first time in these playoffs.

DeMarre Carroll scored 22 points and Kyle Korver bounced back from a miserable first half to lead the Hawks to victory. Korver went 1-for-7 from the 3-point line in the first half but kept firing away. He made three 3s after the break, including one from the corner with less than 3 minutes remaining that gave the Hawks a 98-88 lead after Washington had hit consecutive jumpers.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN