Grizzlies PG Conley aims to torment Hornets again in rematch
Numerous defenders are struggling to stop Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley this season and no team experienced more difficulties than the Charlotte Hornets.
A week ago Conley scored a season-high 31 points and Memphis claimed 15-point win in Charlotte.
Now comes the rematch when the Hornets visit the Grizzlies on Monday night.
Conley is averaging a career-high 19.5 points to go along with 5.8 assists. He is shooting 43.5 percent and making a career-best 47.6 percent of his 3-pointers.
Conley has three 30-point games this season through his first 16 games. He had never more than two 30-point games in a season and last week in Charlotte, Conley hit five 3-pointers and shot 11 of 21 from the field.
The big night by Conley occurred as the Grizzlies opened a 12-point lead early in the first quarter, led by 24 at halftime and shot 58 percent.
"What can I say about Mike Conley?" Memphis coach David Fizdale said last week. "He's getting closer and closer to the guy I want him to be -- the killer, the killer that I want him to be. I'm really proud of his openness to it and that he is trying to adapt to what I want him to be."
Conley's performance is part of a 7-1 run for the Grizzlies, who started it two weeks ago in Utah. In the last eight games, Conley is averaging 20.2 points and delivered another strong showing in Saturday's 110-107 win at Miami.
Conley had 21 points while Marc Gasol led the Grizzlies with 28. The duo took turns taking over as Gasol scored 26 in the first three quarters and Conley scored the final 11 points.
"We play off each other; we know how to play together," Gasol said of Conley. "I know where he likes to get the ball and we are patient. We're unselfish. We're going to make a basketball play every time."
For Charlotte, last week's loss to Memphis was the second of four straight defeats. The Hornets dropped to .500 with a five-point loss to San Antonio Wednesday and a two-point overtime setback at New York Friday.
Charlotte rebounded with a 107-102 win over New York on Friday in a game that might have resembled a 2010-11 Connecticut Huskies game with Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lamb starting in the backcourt for the first time as NBA players.
Walker scored 28 while Lamb added 18 and a career-high 17 rebounds. The performance was impressive since Lamb had only played six minutes since returning from a 10-game absence with a strained left hamstring.
"That was a great win for us," Lamb said. "Everybody fought. We were short-handed and everybody just fought and leaned on each other, and it was just a huge, huge win for us."
Lamb filled in for Nicolas Batum, who did not play due to a corneal abrasion Friday. In 36 minutes, Lamb shot 8 of 15 and his showing even surprised coach Steve Clifford.
"It's surprising, because he literally hasn't been able to do any kind of contact for, I'd say, close to a month, three-and-a-half, four weeks," Clifford said. "But his game is based on skill. He's a skill-based player and you saw that tonight."
Besides the showing of its starting backcourt, Charlotte's defense also improved. The Hornets allowed 114.5 points and 47.1 percent shooting during their slide but held the Knicks to 37.8 percent shooting as Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was part of a defensive effort that held New York star Carmelo Anthony to 7-of-25 shooting.
Batum is expected to return Monday but the Hornets will be without Marvin Williams, who will be out for a week with a knee injury. Charlotte may also be without Marco Belinelli, who strained his hamstring Saturday.
Memphis may be without Zach Randolph. Randolph missed the last two games after his mother passed away on Thursday.