Mercury Rally Falls Short
Career night from DeWanna Bonner not enough as Phoenix loses to Seattle 95-89
By Ben York/@bjyork
If I told you the Mercury had 28 fewer shots, 14 more turnovers (which led to 31 Storm points), and 10 fewer rebounds than Seattle, would you have believed this game went into overtime?
Well, it did; and the Mercury almost pulled off an unbelievable comeback win.
It was strange game all-around; the Storm never seemed to capitalize on their double-digit lead in shot attempts, the Mercury played uncharacteristically slow, and both teams had difficult putting the other away.
The Storm came out of the gates hot in the first quarter hitting 11 of their first 23 shots. Lauren Jackson led the way with 9 points while Sue Bird had 5 at the end of the quarter. In spite of Phoenix turning the ball over 8 times, shooting just 14 shots to the Storm’s 23, and not shooting a single free-throw, the Mercury were down just 5 points at the start of the 2nd quarter.
Almost a carbon-copy of the 1st quarter, the Storm hounded the Mercury on defense finishing with 9 steals in the half and forcing 15 Mercury turnovers. Lauren Jackson continued her dominance on the offensive end of the floor tallying 15 points at the break along with a team-high 4 rebounds. DeWanna Bonner provided a much-needed spark for the Mercury off the bench with her 10 points. In spite of a mediocre half, the Mercury found themselves down just 7 points – until Temeka Johnson lost the ball at the top of the key and launched a three-pointer 6 feet beyond the arc that went in. Although Phoenix had 18 less shots than the Storm, 10 more turnovers, and less rebounds, they trailed Seattle by 4 points at the end of the 2nd quarter.
The 2nd half was a much different story…kind of. Phoenix fell behind by as much as 9 but rallied back to end the quarter down 3. Down 11 points with just over four minutes left in the game, the Mercury went on an 11-0 run to tie the game with 23.2 seconds left. Seattle turned the ball over with 20.7 seconds left on the clock but Phoenix subsequently wasn’t able to put the ball in the basket. Though, neither could the Storm with 5.9 seconds left as the game headed to overtime.
Seattle’s Swin Cash took the game over at this point. Cash scored 7 of her 18 points in the game in overtime as Phoenix never had an answer for the Storm defensively or offensively. Lauren Jackson dominated the entire night with 25 points and 8 rebounds while Sue Bird was extremely close to a triple-double scoring 9, dishing out 8 assists, and grabbing 8 rebounds.
For the Mercury, DeWanna Bonner had a career high in points (24) and rebounds (12). Gaines said after the game that if not for Bonner, the Mercury should’ve been down 15 points at the half. In fact, Bonner was one of the few Mercury players who found her rhythm offensively the whole night. Diana Taurasi finished with 13 points on 4-16 shooting, Penny Taylor had 14, and Candice Dupree finished with 14 points as well.
After the game, Corey Gaines took the shoulder of the blame when asked about Taurasi’s shooting struggles. She still is ailing from a hand injury but maintains that isn’t an issue.
“That’s on me,” Gaines said emphatically. “I need to get her better shots. I own that.”
Gaines also addressed the team’s play to start the 2010 season. “We’re not playing well,” Gaines said. “The turnovers are something that hurts us more than other teams. It’s going to take some time to gel. We fought back to get back into the game and had a last second shot. We’re getting a lot of uncharacteristic turnovers. I have to watch film closer to find out what it is, but it’s killing us.”
From the Storm’s perspective, they were just grateful to escape with a win. The team had a strong performance save for a few late-game turnovers while starting 3-0 (the only undefeated team left in the Western Conference).
“That was one of the craziest minutes or 23 seconds that we have been a part of,” Sue Bird said after the game. “A technical, then a foul, without the ball being inbounded and everything that happened. In a way, we shot ourselves in the foot a little bit in regulation. Heading into overtime, we talked about letting go what happened in the first 40 minutes and just play that five.”
- Diana Taurasi played in her 200th career game while also surpassing the 900 rebound plateau.
- Le’coe Willingham was presented with a 2009 Championship ring. Willingham, now on the Storm, was a key member of the Mercury’s Championship run in ’09.
- The loss broke the Mercury’s winning streak against Seattle at 3 games.
- Candice Dupree now needs just 3 rebounds to hit the 1,000 mark.
- Lauren Jackson continued her dominance against the Mercury. Prior to today’s game, Jackson averaged 25.2 points and 9.9 rebounds against Phoenix from 2006-2009. Jackson finished with an eerily similar 25 and 8 tonight.