It came down to the final minutes. In the end, Diana Taurasi, relatively quiet most of the night, made two big plays to give the Phoenix Mercury a narrow win over the New York Liberty at the Prudential Center on Saturday evening. After the jump, the numbers.
Possessions Offensive Efficiency:
Phoenix 85 107
NY Liberty 90 93
More of a 'NASCAR' paced affair, Phoenix clearly had the edge on both the offensive and defensive ends. Makes you wonder how this one went down to the final minutes. The Four Factors gives us a clue...
The Four Factors:
eFG FT Rate OREB PCT TO RATE
Phoenix 57 46 20 24
NY Liberty 46 14 33 17
The Liberty forced turnovers but giving up 57% on the effective field goal side does not constitute good defense. New York had an encouraging showing on the offensive glass which contributed to their staying tough. The visiting Mercury found ways to earn frequent trips to the line. Defense must shoulder some of that blame.
The First Four minutes: Phoenix led 42-36 at intermission. The opening four minutes of the second half told us the Liberty would be around for the duration. The breakdown:
Possessions Points Offensive Efficiency
Phoenix 8 9 113
NY Liberty 8 14 175
Six minutes to go in the third quarter. Phoenix led 51-50. We had a game.
Taurasi. She was less than spectacular most of the evening. The fourth quarter saw the former UConn sensation score 9 points. On closer look, two possessions stand out.
About a minute to go Phoenix led by two. Taurasi took a pass on the wing, put it on the floor finishing a slicing drive inside. Next time down the floor following a Mercury stop, she buried a trey. For all intents and purposes that was the game.
Traveling. A word on the walking call and why you feel it is not called as much as it should. Number one, an official can get screened. On press row, even fifteen rows up you might have a better look at a walk than the official on the floor. Trust me it happens.
The other point is 'philosophy'. In officiating camps we officials are instructed not to call a walk unless we are sure. As long time clinician Edgar Cartotto often said. "I would rather you blew a walk call than screw (Edgar's language was colorful) a kid who didn't walk. Simply, (the move) looks funny and you are not sure it's traveling, leave it alone."
Records: Liberty fell to 10-8 while Phoenix exited the Rock 11-7.
Win Scores and leading scorers:
Points Win Score
Penny Taylor, Pho. 29 15.5
Diana Taurasi, Pho, 16 0
Nicole Powell, NY 16 15
Plenette Pierson, NY 15 1
Taylor was outstanding. Eight of eleven from the floor and a perfect 11-for-11 from the line. Taurasi's WS is deceptive because it measures the entire contest. In the fourth quarter, one surmises, her Win Score numbers far exceeded a 'goose egg'.
Pierson did a lot of nice things. One rebound and five fouls were not among them. A solid all around game from Nicole Powell who added 6 steals, 4 boards and 3 assists to 7-of-10 shooting from the floor.