Phoenix Sweeps Seattle to Advance

PHOENIX, August 26, 2007 (AP) -- Cappie Pondexter scored 25 points and Diana Taurasi added 20 to help the top-seeded Phoenix Mercury hold off Seattle for a 95-89 win Sunday and a sweep of the best-of-three WNBA Western Conference semifinal series.

Phoenix will play the winner of Monday's Sacramento-San Antonio game on the road Thursday night in the first game of the best-of-three Western Conference finals.

"We're always an interesting team,'' Mercury coach Paul Westhead said. "We never let you get in the parking lot and let you get home early. On the one hand, I have to give credit to Seattle - they never gave up and they kept at us, cutting up our zone a little bit.''

The Storm had rallied from a 22-point, second-half deficit.

Taurasi, who added six assists, hit a 3-pointer with 2:30 left after Seattle had tied it at 85 with 2:50 left. The Storm trailed 60-38 with 8:21 left in the third.

"That's a play we run a lot,'' Taurasi said. "Cappie and I, it goes either way, there are different variations to it.''

Lauren Jackson scored 22 points and grabbed 14 rebounds, but played the last 14 minutes with five fouls for Seattle.

"Yeah, a huge disappointment,'' Jackson said. "But I think Phoenix is a better team and they definitely demonstrated that throughout the series. They played unbelievable basketball and you can't fault them really.''

Penny Taylor added 18 points, five rebounds and five assists for the Mercury, who had not been in the playoffs since 2000.

Sue Bird scored 21 points and had six assists for the fourth-seeded Storm.

"This is the playoffs, and 40 minutes is a very long time,'' Bird said. "You can look at all the games being played right now - every team that's had a 15- or 20-point lead, the other team has sure enough come back.''

Seattle went on a 7-0 run, taking advantage of four Phoenix misses from close range to tie a game it never led.

"We just wanted to close it out,'' Pondexter said. "Everybody was confident that we could close it out, we just went out and played really hard on the defensive end.''

Kelly Miller added 16 points for Phoenix, which had never swept a playoff series in franchise history.

The No. 1 seed from the West beat Seattle 101-84 in the opener Friday.

Seattle had beaten Phoenix in two of the three meetings during the regular season.

"We had been scratching and clawing throughout the fourth quarter, coming back from 22 down,'' Seattle coach Anne Donovan said. "I thought we did a great job. At one point, we just shut off emotions that were carrying us. We were bothered by the officials, we were bothered that we weren't getting stops. We just clamped down but I don't know if it (momentum) every completely swung to Seattle.''

After a dreadful first quarter, Seattle improved its shooting in the second quarter, making 9 of 15 shots, but committed six turnovers and couldn't gain any ground on the Mercury's 13-point lead. Phoenix led 51-38 at the break.

The Mercury had a 15-4 run in the first quarter and led by as much as 27-11 later in the period as Phoenix overcame two quick fouls on Taurasi against Jackson. The leading MVP candidate had seven points and five rebounds in the first quarter, but she also got two fouls early.

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