So Joerger turned to point guard Mike Conley -- a little earlier than he planned -- and Conley responded just like he has in recent weeks.
Conley finished with 21 points and 13 assists and Zach Randolph added 18 points and 12 rebounds to lead the Grizzlies to a 108-101 victory over the Hawks on Sunday night.
Joerger had intended to rest Conley a few minutes longer, but he put Conley back in the game 1:22 into the fourth period after the Hawks had recovered from a 77-64 deficit to tie the game at 77. Conley steadied the Grizzlies, who put together a 25-12 run that included six straight points by Conley and several key assists. Conley had eight points and six assists in the quarter.
"The way the game was going it could have flipped on us there at that point, so I would rather go down with guys that were playing really well," Joerger said. "I might have put them in too early, but they gutted it out. (And) Mike Conley, I think he has got to be Western Conference Player of the Week or something. He was responsible for almost every one of our baskets in the fourth quarter."
Memphis pulled away in the fourth quarter behind Conley, who tied a career best with 31 points in a victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday.
"Once they started making a little bit of a run I noticed from the bench that we weren't getting to the paint," Conley said. "We weren't getting to the rim. We got just a little bit too lax at that stage of the game. We (the starters) just wanted to come in and act on that."
Conley is averaging 26.3 points in his last three games: an overtime loss to San Antonio and wins over Phoenix and Atlanta. The double-double was his fourth of the season, but first since Dec. 3.
"We had great plays from Mike Conley, like always," Grizzlies reserve forward James Johnson said.
The Hawks used their 16-0 run to end the third and start the fourth to take an 80-77 lead, but the Grizzlies recovered behind Conley and reserves Mike Miller and Johnson.
"We found a stretch there where we played well," Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. "Our guys competed. Like we've been saying, we just need to do that for longer and harder. It wasn't our sharpest night."
Miller had eight points in the fourth quarter for the Grizzlies, including two 3-pointers. He finished with 15 points. Johnson had seven points, three steals and two blocks. Both of his blocks came in the final period.
Newly acquired Courtney Lee made his first start for the Grizzlies and scored 15 points. His 3-pointer gave Memphis an 84-82 lead with 8:48 left. The Grizzlies never trailed again.
The Grizzlies built an early seven-point advantage and maintained a lead for most of the opening half. The Hawks took a 26-23 lead to start the second quarter after Shelvin Mack's three-point play tied the game at 23 and Mike Scott's 3-pointer gave Atlanta its first lead.
But Memphis went up 30-28 Miller's 3-pointer 30 seconds later and gradually rebuilt a seven-point lead. Lee connected on a jumper from the baseline as time expired to give the Grizzlies a 48-41 halftime lead.
The Grizzlies scored 28 points in the paint in the first half, while the Hawks committed nine turnovers.
Memphis extended its lead to 13 points late in the third quarter, going up 77-64 on a fast-break layup by Miller. The Hawks closed the quarter with consecutive 3-pointers to trim the Grizzlies' lead to 77-72 entering the fourth.
Hawks starting center Pero Antic did not play because of back spasms. His spot in the lineup was filled by Gustavo Ayon. ... The Grizzlies recalled guard Jamaal Franklin on Sunday from their NBA Development League affiliate in Fort Wayne, Ind. A second-round pick of the Grizzlies in the 2013 draft, Franklin is averaging 1.9 points and 1.4 rebounds in 14 appearances for Memphis. ... Grizzlies guard Tony Allen missed his fourth straight game with a sprained left wrist. ... The Hawks are 1-6 on the road against Western Conference opponents and their 6-13 road record is the worst of any NBA team with a .500 or better record.