MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — The Atlanta Hawks were in the midst of a furious fourth-quarter rally and Memphis Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger had to try to stop it.
So Joerger turned to point guard Mike Conley — a little earlier than he planned — and Conley responded just like he has in recent weeks.
Conley finished with 21 points and 13 assists and Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies to a 108-101 victory over the Hawks on Sunday night.
Joerger had intended to rest Conley a few minutes longer, but he put Conley back in the game 1:22 into the fourth period after the Hawks had recovered from a 77-64 deficit to tie the game at 77. Conley steadied the Grizzlies, who put together a 25-12 run that included six straight points by Conley and several key assists. Conley had eight points and six assists in the quarter.
"The way the game was going it could have flipped on us there at that point, so I would rather go down with guys that were playing really well," Joerger said. "I might have put them in too early, but they gutted it out. (And) Mike Conley, I think he has got to be Western Conference Player of the Week or something. He was responsible for almost every one of our baskets in the fourth quarter."
Memphis pulled away in the fourth quarter behind Conley, who tied a career best with 31 points in a victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
"Once they started making a little bit of a run I noticed from the bench that we weren't getting to the paint," Conley said. "We weren't getting to the rim. We got just a little bit too lax at that stage of the game. We (the starters) just wanted to come in and act on that."
Conley is averaging 26.3 points in his last three games: an overtime loss to San Antonio and wins over Phoenix and Atlanta. The double-double was his fourth of the season, but first since Dec. 3.
"We had great plays from Mike Conley, like always," Grizzlies reserve forward James Johnson said.
Paul Millsap scored 21 points and Jeff Teague added 20 for the Hawks, who had won two straight. It was only the third time the Hawks had lost to the Grizzlies in the past 15 games.
The Hawks used their 16-0 run to end the third and start the fourth to take an 80-77 lead, but the Grizzlies recovered behind Conley and reserves Mike Miller and Johnson.