Sports

Warriors try to even series with Memphis

(SportsNetwork.com) - The Memphis Grizzlies will go for an improbable 3-1 series lead over the Golden State Warriors Monday night as Game 4 of this Western Conference semifinal takes place at FedExForum.

The top-seeded Warriors have not lost three games in a row all season, which is a distinct possibility Monday night. Memphis became the first team to win at Oracle Arena since late January in Game 2, then had a relatively easy time of it in Saturday's 99-89 win in Game 3.

Marc Gasol had 21 points and 15 rebounds, Zach Randolph scored 22 and the Grizzlies lived up to their home court's reputation.

The Grizzlies went 31-10 at home during the regular season and swept all three at FedExForum in their first-round series win over Portland. Golden State, the NBA's best team during the regular season, was supposed to present a greater challenge.

"The crowd was fantastic," said Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger. "We wanted to channel that energy into our defense, and I thought we were fantastic defensively."

The Warriors comfortably won Game 1 of the best-of-seven series to remain unbeaten in the postseason. But Mike Conley Jr. returned to the Memphis lineup following surgery to repair a facial fracture and changed the series.

Conley scored 22 points in Tuesday's emotional win that evened the series. His impact in the box score on Saturday was more modest -- 11 points and five assists -- but it was his seemingly impossible driving layup with 39 seconds left that put the game away.

The Grizzlies are 5-0 in the playoffs with Conley in the lineup.

Meanwhile, Golden State's shooting struggles continued against arguably the best defensive perimeter unit in the league. Conley, Tony Allen and Courtney Lee locked down on the 3-point arc and held the Warriors to 6-for-26 shooting for the second straight game.

MVP Steph Curry and Klay Thompson paced the Warriors with 23 and 20 points, respectively, though the former made just two of his 10 3-point tries.

"We lost our poise, but I thought this was a better effort than Game 2," said Warriors coach Steve Kerr. "We just didn't make open shots."

The Warriors cut into their 55-39 halftime deficit, trailing by just six 4:15 in following a Curry 3. Memphis responded with 18 of the next 24 points, including eight from Randolph, and looked to have the game in hand until another late Warriors run made things interesting.

A 20-5 flurry that spanned most of the fourth had Golden State within 88-84 at 3:15. Lee brought the crowd back to life with a crucial trey from the right wing.

Less than a minute later, Gasol banked in a desperation jumper with a foot on the 3-point line, and Conley scored the game's final four points on his sweeping layup and two free throws.

"We understand what our strengths are," said Gasol. "And of course at the end of games, we're not going to panic."

The Warriors aren't struggling defensively, although, they were 40-0 during the regular season when holding opponents under 100 points and are 1-2 thus far in the series.

Offensively, Golden State has had trouble, averaging 93.3 ppg, which is down about 17 points than its league-leading, regular-season average of 110.0 ppg. Memphis has something to do with it after ranking second in opponents' scoring.

"We'll make some strategic adjustments for sure, but we're not going to make major changes in terms of our rotation," said Kerr. "Our defense has been okay, but not good enough. We can be much sharper."

The Warriors will be without backup center Marreese Speights, who has a calf injury.

Game 5 will be Wednesday night back at Oracle Arena.