Taurasi Leads Mercury Past Shock in Game 2
By MIKE HOUSEHOLDER, Associated Press Writer

Phoenix 98, Detroit 70

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 8 (AP) -- A footwear faux pas is about the only thing that went wrong for the Phoenix Mercury in Game 2 of the WNBA finals.

Coach Paul Westhead mistakenly wore two different shoes to the game, much to the consternation - and amusement - of his players, who went out and equaled the biggest margin of victory in a finals game, beating the Detroit Shock 98-70 on Saturday.

Diana Taurasi bounced back from her woeful Game 1 with 30 points to help the Mercury even the five-game series, which heads back to Phoenix for Game 3 on Tuesday night and Game 4 on Thursday.

"He had on two black shoes, but one was gator leather and one was some kind of penny loafer, so our big game plan tonight was hook Coach up with some new shoes,'' Taurasi joked. "He's kind of old and he needs some fashion advice, but we'll have him ready for next year.''

This was the Taurasi the rest of the league usually sees.

The All-Star guard often looks ordinary against the Shock, averaging 10 points in three games against them this year - nearly half her season average - including 10 while fouling out in 22 minutes of Detroit's 108-100 victory in Game 1 on Wednesday.

But during Game 2, she stayed out of foul trouble and scored from all over the court, including seven 3-pointers.

Taurasi's long 3 made it 76-44 with less than 3 minutes to play in the third quarter and capped a 15-2 Mercury run. She also had eight rebounds and three assists.

"Diana Taurasi kind of stepped up and said, 'Well, I think I'll bring my game with me today.' And she did,'' Westhead said.

Taurasi's inspired play helped offset the return of forward Cheryl Ford to Detroit's lineup. The four-time All-Star, who missed the first game with a left knee injury, had five points and seven rebounds, but played less than half the game.

Shock coach Bill Laimbeer said he took Ford out when the game got out of hand, because "there's no sense risking her getting hurt.''

Phoenix outscored Detroit in the first three quarters and played most of the fourth without its starters.

The Mercury led by as many as 34 and were ahead for the final 37 minutes of the game.

"We just didn't show up,'' Shock guard Deanna Nolan said. "We came into the game and we thought we were ready, but we let them get into a rhythm. They started hitting 3-pointers, and they just killed us.''

Losing big in the finals isn't necessarily a bad thing for Detroit.

A year ago, the Shock dropped two games to Sacramento by 24 and 20 points, yet still were able to claim their second title in four years.

"We have our moments like this. We've been there and done this before in the finals, but it still drives us crazy. We didn't show up,'' Laimbeer said. "We had, not different agendas, but different attitudes today. The coaches coached a bad game, and the players put their heads down and stopped playing. You can't have that.''

Phoenix center Tangela Smith added 18 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Cappie Pondexter also had 18 points for the high-energy Mercury, which held a 14-7 advantage in fast-break points and only turned the ball over nine times, compared with 16 for the Shock.

Kelly Miller was the Mercury's fourth player in double figures. She had 13 points, nine rebounds and five assists.

Only two members of the Shock scored in double figures: Nolan with 12 and captain Swin Cash, who had 10.

"I think we were pretty calm after Game 1, because it is a five-game series,'' Smith said. "If it were a one-game series, we would have been upset, but we've got time to come back. We just played a more aggressive game today.''

Taurasi jumped off the bench at the end of the third quarter with her team ahead 79-51. With a towel draped around her shoulders, she screamed encouragement at her teammates and slapped their hands as if a 28-point lead wasn't good enough.

Taurasi expects to see a much different Detroit team in Phoenix.

"I'd be mad,'' she said of the Shock. "After getting beat by 30, I'd be furious.''

Kelly Mazzante's 3 with 28 seconds remaining and Pondexter's 19-foot jumper with one to go gave Phoenix a 48-32 halftime lead, its largest of the game to that point.

Three minutes earlier, referee Lisa Mattingly called a technical foul on Ford after she loudly complained about being called for traveling. Taurasi converted the free throw to give Phoenix a 37-30 lead.

Smith then made a layup to extend the lead. The next time down, Taurasi's baseline jumper from just inside the 3-point arc made it 41-30 and prompted Laimbeer to call a timeout with 2:09 left in the half.

All-Access: WNBA Finals Game 2
Take an behind the scenes look at the Phoenix Mercury's win over the Detroit Shock.