Stephen Curry received the Maurice Podoloff Trophy for winning MVP before Game 2.
Tony Allen played with a different honor on his mind:
Allen and Mike Conley – who returned from a broken face to score a game-high 22 points – hounded the Splash Brothers, leading the the Grizzlies to a 97-90 Game 2 win Tuesday.
The Warriors lost their first game of these playoffs, and with the series headed back to Memphis on Saturday tied 1-1, they’ll need to adjust to a new foe – Conley.
“It felt like I played 50 minutes tonight,” said Conley, who played 27 minutes after missing the previous three games. “But my teammates lifted me up.”
Memphis upped the defense, slowed the pace and held Golden State to its third-fewest points of the season.
Allen – who made first team All-Defense in 2012 and 2013 and should again this season – said Curry’s production “ain’t nothing I ain’t never seen before” and then helped make the MVP look as ordinary as we’ve seen this postseason. Curry scored 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, including 2-of-11 from beyond the arc. Allen also began the game on Klay Thompson, who shot 6-for-15, 1-for-6 on 3-pointers and never got to the free-throw line.
“It wasn’t about making no adjustments,” Allen said. “It was just about not coming out here being lackadaisical.”
When Allen wasn’t bottling up one, Conley often checked the other Golden State starting guard. But Conley – whom Allen called the “Masked Assassin” – made his biggest impact offensively.
Beyond Conley’s own scoring, Zach Randolph (20 points, seven rebounds, four assists), Marc Gasol (15 points, six rebounds and three assists) and Courtney Lee (15 points) all looked more comfortable with Conley directing traffic and getting the ball to the right spots.
It seemed whenever the Golden State – which came back from a 20-point deficit to beat the Pelicans in the first round – threatened, the Grizzlies answered with a score. They held their lead from early in the first quarter. As unlikely as it seemed during their 21-game home winning streak, the Warriors just never generated much momentum.
“We want to play fast. They want to play slow,” Warriors coach Steve Kerr said. “And they got the tempo where they needed it tonight.”