Mike Conley leaves game as Grizzlies pounded by Hornets

Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (15) controls the ball against Memphis Grizzlies guard Mike Conley (11) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 28, 2016, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
AP Photo/Brandon Dill

Memphis Grizzlies point guard Mike Conley left the team’s 104-85 loss to the Charlotte Hornets with a lower back injury and didn’t return.

Conley had 14 points and five assists in 20 minutes before leaving the game in the third quarter. The Grizzlies trailed by 13 points when the point guard left, and the game turned into a complete rout shortly afterward. Grizzlies head coach David Fizdale didn’t have an update on the severity of the injury after the game:

Memphis can’t afford a long-term injury to yet another key player, and losing its floor general in Conley for an extended period of time would be an especially tough blow. Chandler Parsons is already dealing with more knee problems, while Zach Randolph has been away from the team due to the death of his mother.

Conley has gotten off to an excellent start to the season after dealing with an injury-plagued 2015-16 season. He entered play Monday with averages of 19.5 points, 5.8 assists and 3.8 rebounds while shooting 43.5 percent overall and 47.6 percent from long range. He’s also nearly shooting 90 percent from the free throw line.

The 29-year-old only played in 56 games last season thanks in large part to a nagging Achilles injury. Prior to last year, he’d only missed that many games once in his career, and that was way back in his rookie season.

The Grizzlies dropped to 11-7 on the year thanks to their ugly loss to Charlotte. That record is still good for fifth in the Western Conference, a half-game behind the Houston Rockets and a half-game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder.

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