The Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm hooked up for an early season battle of undefeated Western Conference contenders. Behind 25 points from Lauren Jackson and a whooping 24 turnovers for the Mercury, the Storm finished strong to secure a 95-89 overtime win.
The Mercury had all week to try and get their offensive chemistry together but those 24 turnovers (7 from Dupree and 6 from Taurasi) didn't reflect well on their work. You have to credit the Storm defenders for being very active defensively and slapping at the ball in the lane.
Coach Gaines and the Mercury of course, think that the turnover problem (they had 22 against the Sparks last week) is an issue that they have to own and correct.
"Right now we are kind of hesitant and not really in sync and it shows. Two games with twenty turnovers, that's really uncharacteristic of our team. So we're just going to have to get better," Taurasi explained.
The reigning MVP went 4 for 16 from the field and had no real answer for her second straight poor shooting performance but called that the least of her worries.
Candice Dupree finished with 14 points and 6 rebounds to go along with her 7 turnovers.
Storm Coach Brian Agler explains his team's defensive strategy against Dupree in the post, "They're so good, if you do it like in an organizational way they will find the open people. So you almost have to convince your team that you've got to jab at them and change things up and do some things that way and not really be consistent on how you send the help."
Agler obviously also had the luxury of Lauren Jackson to defend the rim. LJ finished with two blocks and four steals.
The Mercury kept the game within striking distance for most of the second half until a 12-4 run for the Storm gave the visitors an 11-point lead with about 4 minutes to go. Phoenix was able to fight back and eventually tie the game despite both teams blowing late chances to prevent an over time period.
Camille Little inexplicably passed up a wide open layup and ended up passing to no one and then was called for traveling when she went and retrieved the ball. On the other end, the Mercury weren't able to get Penny Taylor a clean look on a designed play and missed an open shot on a kick out only to have the ball fall to Bonner who instead of calling a time out with 6 seconds left heaved a shot from the sitting position.
Those final 60 seconds were not what you would call championship late game execution by either team including the Storm coach who was called for a technical with 23 seconds to go and his team up by one point.
In over time, it was the Storm who were able to get their act together and pull away behind veteran Swin Cash's 7 points.
The bright spot for the Mercury was DeWanna Bonner who continues to look very much like the player who won Sixth Women of the Year in 2009 - but better. Playing the wing gives her more opportunities to attack off the dribble where she can use her size, footwork and a newly developed cross-over to create a variety of shots and draw fouls.
Bonner posted an impressive career high 24 points on 7 of 12 shot attempts and a career high 12 rebounds.
Coach Agler had no answer for her, "She really played great tonight. We thought we were prepared for it but we couldn't get her shut down....We will definitely have to re-think our philosophy on guarding her."
The Storm look like a very strong team with a healthy Lauren Jackson doing her thing on both ends of the floor and a much improved bench that Coach Agler was more than willing to use as he played all eleven of his players.
Rebounding, an area that Coach Gaines hoped to improve this season, was still an issue against the Storm who out-worked Phoenix on the glass and finished with 18 offensive rebounds to only 8 for Phoenix.
The combination of rebounding and turnovers gave the Storm 94 shot attempts to only 66 for the Mercury. The Mercury only were able to stay in the game at all because the Storm missed a ton of shots (4 for 24 from three).
Post Game Audio:
- Tangela Smith starts on LJ. Guess who gets good post position and draws an early foul
- LJ on Dupree on the other end and guess who scores a nice little jump hook over the big Aussie
- Corey Gaines is right in front of my calling for drags ever time the Mercury advance the ball but Taurasi and Meek ignoring him and can calling the audible
- Hand down, girl down. Penny just watched Swin shoot right over her. That time she contested Little's shot and the result was a miss. See how that works. Proof positive
- DT hitting shots tonight which is nice because I was a bit worried about that hand
- 5 turnovers for the Merc so far. 4 of them Storm steals and that's really the reason Seattle is up 20-12. Both teams shooting close to 60%
- Liking how Dupree runs right to the rim and the Merc find her in early offense
- DB with a long three? Wow
- 7 turnovers = 11 Seattle points. Make that 8 turnovers. Last two were just sloppy
- Seattle more than willing to run off Phoenix misses
- 26-21 Seattle
- Bonner looks really good
- Not sure why Smith is on LJ and not Ohlde
- More Merc turnovers leads to a very rare Corey Gaines time out
- Seattle is playing hard on defense but there's a lot of sloppy mistakes. Merc shooting 63% though so that will work
- Mercury playing a lot less zone so far
- Storm killing it on the offensive glass right now. 8 - 2 on the O-glass
- LJ looking very mobile on defense. I hope she can stay healthy this season
- Penny never looks like she's having much fun playing basketball
- Mercury switching quite a bit and Seattle taking advantage by going right at Taurasi w/ LeCoe
- Mercury very lucky to only be down 44-40. 12-2 second chance points. 17-3 points off turnovers. Of course, shooting 58% and 5 of 6 from three will keep you in a lot of games. Storm had 44 FGA's compared to only 26 for Merc
- Penny Taylor's shot is falling but her energy looks bad
- Storm slapping at a lot of balls and Mercury hoping for calls that aren't coming
- 9-0 run for Storm. Up 55-45
- Bonner drove hard, missed, grabbed her miss and got hammered hard by LJ
- 60-56 Storm. Be interesting to see if last years strategy of wearing teams down in the fourth works again this year
- Storm going deep into their bench. Clearly they understood what hurt them last year
- Mercury shooting came back to earth but fewer turnovers and good defense keeps it a 3 point game. 66-63. Only 1 turnover