With their once guard-heavy roster skimmed down to two backup point guards, the Grizzlies chose to insert Nick Calathes into the starting lineup following Conley's injury against the Minnesota Timberwolves last Friday night.
Usually hitting the floor in limited minutes so Conley can take a breather, Calathes answered the starter's call of duty Saturday at the FedExForum, helping lead the Grizz to a 99-90 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks. Before tip-off, the Grizzlies announced that Conley would be out for at least a week.
"I knew coach had a lot of confidence in me," said Calathes, who scored a career-best 22 points. "He started me. My job was to run the team. The big thing was to just get the win and not turn the ball over."
Seeing 40 minutes of play, Calathes finished the game without committing a single turnover. He grabbed five rebounds and was 4-of-5 shooting from beyond the three-point line.
Conley had missed two games this season with a bruised left thigh. Jerryd Bayless, now with the Boston Celtics, stepped in to run the point. Saturday's game belonged to Calathes.
Milwaukee came to Memphis looking to snap a six-game losing streak and for the Grizzlies the first half was bumpy. Memphis allowed the Timberwolves to dominate the starting quarters, building a 13-point lead. At the half, the Grizzlies were down by six (49-43).
Determined to notch their sixth consecutive victory, the Grizzlies found a rhythm without Conley. Early in the fourth quarter, Memphis went on a 16-4 run, seizing control.
Zach Randolph led the Grizzlies with 23 points and 10 rebounds. Marc Gasol pitched in 19. Memphis outscored the Bucks 46-32 in the paint and outrebounded them 48-38.
The Grizzlies were hot behind the arc (6-of-10), with a season-high 60 percent shooting.
Brandon Knight led Milwaukee with 23 points and seven assists. Ersan Ilyasova finished with 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Bucks.
The Grizzlies – now 26-20 – has won 16 of their last 20 games dating back to the first game of winter (Dec. 21). They hold the best record in the NBA for that time frame. Memphis finished the month of January with a 12-3 record. In addition, the Grizzlies recorded the best record in the Western Conference in January and led the West in defense and points allowed.
NOTE: The Grizzlies are on the road and will face NBA super star Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder tonight Feb. 3). They return to Memphis on Wednesday to battle the Dallas Mavericks.