- Category: Sports
02 Apr 2013
- Written by Kelley Evans
Fifty was the number of the night and not because it is worn by Memphis All-Star Zach Randolph. Fifty marks the number of wins the Grizzlies now have this season after defeating the team that holds the number one spot in the Western Conference.
In an April Fools Day game at FedExForum on Monday, all jokes were put aside for a seriously-played basketball game. One of the most-respected coaches in the league, Gregg Popovich, was in town, along with a battle-tested San Antonio team that played without key players Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Kawhi Leonard.
Grizzlies guard Mike Conley led the Grizzlies to an intensely fought 92-90 victory. It was his night
So what did Conley do?
Everything he had to do, including hitting a game-tying three pointer with 30.7 seconds left to play.
He then wove his way through the lane and to the basket. With a little more than six seconds left to play, Conley snaked past San Antonio's Danny Green for a game-winning layup. The shot was Conley's second game-winner of his career.
At the end of the night, Conley, who leads the NBA in steals with 164, had tallied 23 points for the Grizzlies. Guard Jerryd Bayless finished with 17 points off the bench, followed by Marc Gasol with 13.
"We actually had run the play similar to that a few plays before and I was open again," Conley said of the game-tying three pointer.
"I told JB (Jerryd Bayless), 'If you get a chance, if you don't have a good look driving, I'm going to be out at the top of the key waiting on you.' He found me and delivered the ball perfect. It was just routine, try to concentrate and knock it down."
"They hit the biggest shot," the Spurs' Popovich said. "We might have hit some shots but (Mike) Conley hit the biggest shot of the game, (and) they deserve credit for that."
From Popovich's vantage point, Conley becomes a better player every year.
He is more confident. He has expanded (his) game. He did a great job. I thought our guys played hard and competed well. We moved the ball and shared the ball."
Spurs guard Tony Parker led all scorers with 25 points, followed by Tiago Splitter with 13.
The Grizzlies, who are in a neck-in-neck tussle with the Denver Nuggets and the Los Angeles Clippers for third place in the Western Conference, knew the importance of the win.
In the second half, Memphis was down by 11 points and trailed until Conley's three-pointer.
Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins said Conley, who is averaging 17 points, 7 assists and 2 steals, has shown growth.
"He's much stronger, much more mature, knows how to pace himself a little better," Hollins said. "He made the big three, then he made the layup to win the game. That was huge for us."
The Grizzlies will face the Portland Trailblazers on the road on Wednesday.