Mercury Advances to Western Conf. Finals

By Ben York, PhoenixMercury.com
Posted: September 23, 2013

With a thrilling, last-second victory in the decisive Game 3 of its opening round playoff series, the Phoenix Mercury clinched a berth in the 2013 Western Conference Finals.

The Mercury rallied from eight points down to lead 42-40 at halftime. Griner picked up her third foul and Taurasi got her second in the final 1:30 of the second quarter. Candice Dupree, Diana Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner combined to score all of the Mercury's 23 points in the second, when they shot 73 percent.

After Parker gave the Sparks just their second lead of the fourth on a layup with 7 seconds to go, Brittney Griner hit a turnaround jumper with 4.9 seconds left gave the Phoenix Mercury a 78-77 victory over the Los Angeles Sparks on Monday night in the deciding Game 3 of their first-round series.

"I knew it was going in; I've seen her make that shot all year,” Diana Taurasi said about Griner’s clutch shot. “That's probably one of her biggest weapons. She turns and shoots with confidence. For her to be up and down this whole series and then take this shot when we need it most and take it with confidence tells you a lot about Brittney and how mentally strong she is.

“She's willing to do anything to help this team win. It was amazing."

Candice Dupree scored all but two of her 22 points in the first half, Dewanna Bonner added 19, and Taurasi had 18 points and 10 assists while improving to 6-0 in career elimination games with the Mercury.

"Brittney was option two, Diana was option one,” Russ Pennell said about the game-winning shot. “All we did was run a little baseline screen, brought Diana to the corner, Diana lifted a little higher than what we'd intended. But, one of the things I like to do when you don't have a lot of time is take all of your players and put them above the foul line, except your biggest one then you're kind of playing one-on-one.

“It's almost like a jump ball, you just throw it up, and she (Griner) hit a big shot, she didn't have a particularly great game, but you expect big time player to make big time plays, and she certainly did that."

The Mercury reach the Western Conference Finals for the fourth time in the last five seasons (2009, 2010, 2011, 2013), and for the fifth time all-time since the league adopted a three-round playoff format.

Phoenix will take on the Minnesota Lynx in a best-of-three series beginning Thursday, September 26, at Target Center. The Mercury’s home game is this Sunday, September 29, at 2 p.m. at US Airways Center. A complete Western Conference Finals schedule is included below:

Game 1 Thu September 26 Phoenix at Minnesota 6:00PM ESPN2
Game 2 Sun September 29 Minnesota at Phoenix 2:00PM ESPN2
Game 3 * Tue October 1 Phoenix at Minnesota TBD ESPN2
*If necessary