Mercury Beats Shock in Total Team Win
With a 100-78 win over the Tulsa Shock Friday night at US Airways Center, the Mercury improved to 3-1 on the season, matching the best four-game start in franchise history.
Phoenix last started a season 3-1 in both 2007 and 2009, the team's last two WNBA championship seasons.
Sure, any win is great, but it's how the Mercury won tonight that is rather remarkable.
After entering the night No. 1 in the WNBA in field goal percentage (.500), Phoenix shot 51.9 percent from the field tonight, and is now shooting 54.8 percent at home this season (92-of-168). After tonightís blistering 10-of-15 (.667) effort from three-point range, the Mercury now leads the league in three-point field goal percentage (entered the night No. 2). Phoenix was 10th in the WNBA (.303) in three-point percentage last season. Even more remarkably, 13 of the Mercury's 27 made threes (48.1 percent) this year are by players who were not on last seasonís roster.
Erin Phillips had her best game in a Mercury uniform with 15 points on 5-of-7 shooting (3-of-4 from downtown) to go along with four assists. Diana Taurasi had a team-high 16 points, while Penny Taylor and Shay Murphy each added nine.
"For the first few games, I probably was playing a bit too much like a point guard, and trying to get other people involved, rather than looking for my shot," Phillips said. "Itís been a while since I actually played the point guard position before this year, but tonight I felt I was more aggressive and tried to be attacking. It takes the pressure off the other players and it also gets them open as well."
Seven Mercury players scored eight points or more, the Mercury out-rebounded the Shock 34-24, and Brittney Griner again finished with more blocks than the entire opposing team (4-3) in addition to her 14 points (Griner now has 17 blocked shots this season, more than seven of the 11 other WNBA teams).
"You learn a lot from your losses, and we learned a lot," Mercury Head Coach Sandy Brondello said. "We had a good practice week, and we put it into action tonight. Thatís the way we really want to play. Some days are going to be a little harder than that, obviously. Tulsa is a good team. Iím sure the next game will be a little closer."
One could make a convincing case that the energy and production from the Mercury's bench players ultimately was the key factor in tonight's game. The bench scored 41 of the Mercury's 100 points while shooting 63 percent from the floor (14-of-22). In fact, Anete Jekabsone-Zogota had another perfect game from the floor (4-of-4 shooting, 3-of-3 from beyond the arc).
"Today, we were sharp," Diana Taurasi added. "After the San Antonio game, we had a good four or five days of working on things that were kind of left on the wayside, so today looked good."
Mistie Bass and Shay Murphy were stellar off the bench in tonight's win, and continue to prove why there were big free agent priorities for the Mercury in the off-season.
Bass finished with six points and eight rebounds while her energy was off the charts. Murphy tallied nine points on 4-of-7 shooting in just 16 minutes of play. Combined, the duo were 6-of-11 from the floor and grabbed 10 boards.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
There isn't one - and that's a good thing.
That is to say, tonight's game was the definition of a team win. Phoenix shot 52 percent from the floor, 67 percent from the 3-point line and 87 percent from the charity stripe while assisting on 18 of their 28 made shots.
Perhaps more importantly, they forced 19 Shock turnovers which translated into 33 Mercury points.
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
41 - the number of points scored by the Mercury's bench, a season high. Anete Jekabsone-Zogota again finished with a perfect stat line: 4-of-4 shooting (3-of-3 from beyond the arc) for 15 points.