Oakland, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Mike Conley made his case for being the most valuable player in the Grizzlies-Warriors series on Tuesday.
A day after Stephen Curry was named the NBA's MVP, Conley returned from a three-game absence and carried Memphis to an unlikely 97-90 road victory that evened the Western Conference semifinals at a game apiece.
Conley had not played since an inadvertent elbow broke several bones around his left eye, which resembled that of a boxer following a 12-round slugfest. The unheralded point guard played 27 minutes, scored 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting and steadied a Grizzlies team that trailed for a total of 10 seconds.
His work defensively also helped limit Curry to 19 points and Klay Thompson to 13 on a combined 34 shots.
"Mike Conley has a tremendous heart," Grizzlies head coach Dave Joerger said. "He gave us an extra element."
Zach Randolph totaled 20 points and seven rebounds, while Marc Gasol and Courtney Lee added 15 points apiece in handing the Warriors their first loss of the postseason and their first setback at home in over three months.
Golden State, which had won 21 straight at Oracle Arena, turned it over 20 times and shot an uncharacteristic 23.1 percent (6-of-26) from 3-point range.
"It's the playoffs. When you get outplayed by a really good team you're going to lose when you're on the road or at home," Warriors head coach Steve Kerr said. "They deserved to win. They kicked our butts."
The Warriors have plenty of time to regroup since the series does not resume until Saturday in Memphis.
Conley showed no rust eight days removed from surgery. He scored nine points in the first 4:37 and had the Grizzlies up by as many as 11 in the first quarter.
There was a brief scare midway through the second when Draymond Green hit Conley on his protective mask trying to force a jump ball. After staying on the floor for a moment, Conley made his way to the bench and stayed in.
The Warriors' struggles were summed up by Thompson missing an uncontested dunk late in the half and Lee draining a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.
A 9-0 run over the final 1:15 -- highlighted by a Tony Allen three-point play -- sent the Grizzlies into the break with a 50-39 lead.
It was just the second time all season the Warriors failed to score 40 points in the first half. They shot 36.8 percent from the floor, did not record any second-chance points and were outscored 28-14 in the paint.
Green got the crowd back into it with a coast-to-coast layup late in the third, but he and Curry missed 3-point tries the next two times down. Lee's jumper off an offensive rebound just before the buzzer gave Memphis a 73-63 advantage.
The closest the Warriors got in the fourth was seven. After they pulled within 83-76 midway through the frame, Conley banked in a runner and Allen picked off a lazy Curry pass and went in for an easy dunk to quiet the crowd.
A Conley 3-pointer extended the lead back to 10 with just over two minutes to play, and the visitors held on from there.
The Warriors' previous home loss came on Jan. 27 against the Bulls ... Allen finished with nine points and four steals ... Leandro Barbosa scored 14 points in 14 minutes off Golden State's bench ... Green logged 14 points and 11 rebounds ... The Grizzlies went 18-of-20 from the foul line.