Mike Conley’s game-changing sequence in fourth quarter gave Jazz a boost. Here’s how he did it
In what had been a ‘sneaky quiet’ night for the Jazz guard, all that changed down the stretch
The Utah Jazz opened the fourth quarter of Game 4 with a 13-point lead, but that lead was quickly erased and the Jazz found themselves on the wrong side of a 23-10 Memphis Grizzlies run that included reserve player De’Anthony Melton going off for 15 points.
The Jazz needed something to stop the bleeding. The Grizzlies were in control of the pace of the game and their young star, Ja Morant, had the ball in his hands.
Enter Mike Conley.
When Jazz players talk about Conley they often do so with a sense of reverence, not only for his experience and the career he has built, but also for his ability to swing a game and calm the offense at just the right moment.
Through the first three quarters, Conley scored just five points and dished out seven assists. It was a quiet night, but as many have come to learn, quiet for Conley has more of an impact than you’d expect.
“He’s kind of a sneaky quiet,” Jazz coach Quin Snyder said. “When he whispers, you hear it.”
Melton set a screen on Royce O’Neale and Morant drove left, but standing in his way was Conley. As Morant went up for a short floater that would have cut the Jazz’s lead to just two points, Conley stripped the ball out of his hands.
On the other end, Donovan Mitchell set a screen on Morant, forcing Grayson Allen to switch onto Conley. But, right behind Allen was Rudy Gobert, ready to set another screen, giving Conley just enough room to take a couple dribbles and pull up for a 3-pointer.
Conley’s shot was on the money. It was his fourth 3-point attempt of the game and his third make.
“On paper, he only had 11 points and seven assists, but it felt like he was out there and had 20 and 10,” Mitchell said. “Not only was it like, just his presence, but the way he goes about the game.”
Instead of the Grizzlies cutting the lead to just two points, the Jazz were back in control with a seven-point lead and just over three minutes to play. Conley’s defensive awareness and poise on the offensive end put control back in the Jazz’s hands.
“Those two plays consecutively certainly had a big impact on the momentum of the game,” Snyder said.
The Jazz went on to beat the Grizzlies, 120-113, to take a 3-1 series lead heading into Game 5 back at Vivint Arena on Wednesday.
The Jazz will be looking to wrap things up and close out this first-round series, and they’ll do it knowing that if they need to make a push, they have a player in Conley that is capable of settling things and coming up big when the pressure is on.