OAKLAND, Calif. — Mike Conley returned just eight days after having facial surgery to score 22 points, and the Memphis Grizzlies used a smothering defensive effort to beat the Golden State Warriors 97-90 on Tuesday night, evening the Western Conference semifinals 1-1.
Wearing a clear mask to protect his swollen face and red left eye, Conley stole the spotlight from newly minted MVP Stephen Curry. He made his first four shots to get the Grizzlies going, and his teammates did the rest on defense.
Zach Randolph had 20 points and seven rebounds, and Marc Gasol and Courtney Lee scored 15 points each to help Memphis end Golden State's 21-game home-winning streak. The Warriors dropped to 42-3 this season at rowdy Oracle Arena, losing for the first time at home in more than three months and for the first time this postseason.
Game 3 is Saturday in Memphis.
When the Warriors started to rally in the closing minutes, Conley came through again. He made a 3-pointer to give the Grizzlies a 90-80 lead with 2:11 left, silencing the sea of golden yellow shirts for good.
During the timeout, the TNT broadcast caught teammate Tony Allen calling Conley "One-Eyed Charlie." Conley cramped up and went to the bench briefly, but by that point, his job had been done.
Conley added three assists in 27 minutes.
Curry collected 19 points, six assists and five rebounds but had little help from backcourt teammate Klay Thompson, who was smothered by Allen's aggressive play. The Warriors had 20 turnovers and shot just 41.9 percent, including 23.1 percent from 3-point range. The Grizzlies had 13 steals.
Golden State had not lost at home since a 113-111 overtime defeat to Chicago on Jan. 27. The only other home loss came to San Antonio on Nov. 11.
The Warriors had won their first five games in these playoffs, including a sweep of New Orleans in the opening round, and were riding the good vibes of Curry's crown.
Curry received the MVP trophy from NBA Commissioner Adam Silver during an on-court ceremony just before tipoff, and fans serenaded Curry with chants of "M-V-P!"
Once the game began, the other point guard drowned out those cheers.
Conley started after missing the last three games recovering from surgery to repair broken bones in his face. He had been concerned about his mask fogging up, but he looked comfortable and in control.
Conley avoided serious contact until the second quarter, when Draymond Green hit him in the face trying to grab the ball as the point guard lay on the court signaling for a timeout. Conley winced in pain before getting up, and some Grizzlies shouted at Green as the teams headed to their benches.
Officials reviewed the play and ruled there was no excessive contact.
Memphis rallied behind its masked man, scoring the final nine points of the half to take a 50-39 lead. It was only the second time this season the Warriors were held under 40 points in the first half.
Grizzlies: Memphis had lost three straight to the Warriors since winning the first matchup this season. ... The Grizzlies went 1-1 against the Warriors in Memphis.
Warriors: Golden State had been 44-0 when holding opponents to fewer than 100 points. ... The Warriors' lowest-scoring first half this season was 38 points in a loss at San Antonio on April 5, and their season low in points came in a 100-86 loss at the Los Angeles Clippers on Dec. 25.
Allen highlighted Memphis' dominating defensive effort. He frustrated Thompson and forced him into quick and contested shots. The All-Star guard scored 13 points on just 6-of-15 shooting, including 1 for 6 from beyond the arc.