The Phoenix Mercury have extended their 2018 WNBA semifinal series against the Seattle Storm, completing a thrilling comeback to tie the series 2-2 and send it back to Seattle for a win-or-go-home Game 5. Phoenix trailed by 17 in the second quarter and 16 in the second half, but a dominant performance from Brittney Griner and crucial contributions from the rest of the team helped complete the comeback.
Game 5 of this incredible series will be played Tuesday.
Phoenix Mercury (86) vs. Seattle Storm (84)
Phoenix scored the first two baskets of the game, but Seattle responded with a 12-0 run to set an early pace that dominated much of the first half. The Storm ended the quarter with a 31-16 lead, and had its largest lead (33-16) early in the second quarter.
Sue Bird suffered a broken nose during the second quarter after an incidental elbow to the face from Breanna Stewart, and was ruled out for the rest of the game. Phoenix cut the lead to 53-42 at halftime. Griner led all scorers with 19 first-half points, while Diana Taurasi chipped in with 11. But Seattle’s starters all scored at least seven in the first half, shooting a combined six of nine from three.
The Mercury cut Seattle’s lead down once again in the third, entering the fourth trailing 71-66. Griner and DeWanna Bonner both created multiple offensive opportunities near the basket, Taurasi hit a late three, and a strong defensive effort held the Storm to just 18 points in the quarter.
Phoenix came out swinging in the fourth, quickly cutting the lead to one point and setting up an exhilarating final quarter of action. The Storm regrouped and picked at the Phoenix defense, drawing fouls, but Griner tied the game 76-76 with six minutes to go. The Mercury took their first lead since early in the first quarter moments later, eventually going up 82-76 thanks to a 12-0 run.
The Storm weren’t out of it yet, cutting the lead to 82-80 with just over two minutes to play. But Griner delivered once again inside, keeping it a two-possession game. Natasha Howard tied the game 84-84 with 37 seconds left on a floater from the lane that seemed to answer all of Seattle’s prayers. But on Phoenix’s next position, Camille Little delivered with a critical offensive rebound on an errant DeWanna Bonner shot, dishing to Griner for the leading basket with 14 seconds left.
Sue Bird drew up Seattle’s final play from the huddle, but stellar defense from Griner inside prevented the Storm from getting a shot up. Griner finished with 29 points and 12 rebounds in a dominating performance on both ends of the court, while Bonner scored 27. For Seattle, Stewart led the way with 22 points, while Howard scored 14.
Seattle, who entered the playoffs as the No. 1 seed, won the first two games of the series. Phoenix fought back with a big win in Game 3, thanks to a heroic performance from Bonner (and an uncharacteristic 22% from three for the Storm).