Conley Struggles In First Trip Back To Memphis
MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Mike Conley’s night started off with a standing ovation, but his play on the court was not worth of applause in Utah’s 107-106 loss to Memphis and his former Grizzlies teammates.
Conley finished with 15 points but was just 5-of-19 from the field in the loss. Playing in front of fans and friends who still adore him took a toll on the lefty guard.
“It was a hard game to play, honestly. But it was special and a lot of emotions,” Conley said after the game. “A part of you is soaking it all in and the other part is just trying to focus and stay locked in in the game. I’m glad I got it over with. It was an amazing experience, but it would have been better if we had won.”
Conley looked focused when the public address announcer yelled his name and he ran out on to the floor to be with his teammates. It was a bit harder for him to concentrate during the first timeout as the Grizzlies honored Conley with a video tribute.
“Coach (Quin Snyder) was drawing a play and I was just looking up. I was trying to pay attention, but I didn’t know what to do,” said Conley. “I didn’t know if he was going to get mad at me or not. I had to watch it and it was tough. Teammates were waiting for me to cry. It was just a weird situation. But as the 2nd half went on it got a little easier.”
But when Conley’s eyes would wander off the court, it was still hard to focus.
“It was tough because I could not even look in the crowd without seeing somebody waving or somebody I knew,” he added. “And everyone one of those people trigger a memory…It was almost a dreamy kind of feeling. It was so surreal.”
Conley’s aim was askew in the first half and most of the 3rd quarter. Then with 4:31 left in the period, he caught the ball, made a nice head fake and drained a 3-pointer. Just over a minute later Conley was fouled on a 3-pointer and made 2-of-3 of the freebies.
It almost looked like he could be the hero of this game, making a step-back 3-pointer in the 4th to give the Jazz a 2-point lead at 93-91 and then threw a beautiful lob to Rudy allowed Utah to re-take the lead at 95-94. But alas, it was not meant to be.
Conley and the Jazz return to Memphis on Nov. 29th and Conley vows to be better prepared for the rematch.
“I’m shutting my phone off. I’m going straight to the hotel. I’m going to be ready,” Conley mentioned. “This trip was hard. I had no routine this trip. I tried to see everybody and soak it all in. I’m looking forward to it.”
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