Mercury Stays Hot, Beats Storm
Opening the 2014 season with four of their first five games at home, the Mercury knew they had to capitalize as much as possible on their home court.
On Tuesday night, they did exactly that in an 87-72 win over the Seattle Storm and improved to 3-1 at home under Sandy Brondello. Only Cheryl Miller (4-0, 1997) earned a better home record in her first four games as head coach of the Mercury (Russ Pennell was also 3-1).
Now at 4-1 on the season, Brondello and the Mercury matched the best five-game start in franchise history - the last Phoenix teams to earn a 4-1 record through five games were the 2007 and 2009 squads, which both went on to win the WNBA title.
"Obviously, weíre all about team," Sandy Brondello said after the game. "So we try to have a lot of ball and player movement. Whomeverís open shoots it, so itís not just one person trying to force that action. I think thatís always a key for our success."
With the win, Phoenix recorded consecutive wins against the Storm for the first time since August 4 - September 10, 2009. It was also the Mercury's fourth win against the Western Conference in just five games in 2014. Last season, the Mercury finished 9-13 against the West and did not win its fourth conference game until its 10th try (July 18 at Los Angeles).
Diana Taurasi finished with an all-around amazing game of 20 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Brittney Griner and Candice Dupree both had 20 points and eight rebounds.
"I had more poise tonight," Brittney Griner said. "If they were coming with the double team, I'd just kick it out to my players. If they didnít come quick enough, then I looked to score."
The Mercury - already the best shooting team in the WNBA at .504 entering the night - shot 53.2 percent from the floor Tuesday against the Storm. Phoenix also owns the league's fifth-best field goal percentage defense (.425) and forced Seattle into just 41.3 percent from the floor. Remarkably, the Mercury improved their WNBA-best scoring differential to +11.0 points after tonightís 15-point win. Fourteen of the 17 championships in WNBA history have been won by that seasonís scoring differential leader, including the Mercury in 2009.
"Sometimes you have to see the box score to see people contribute," Diana Taurasi added. "But you can feel that a lot of people did a lot today, in a lot of different areas. You can come back into the locker room and feel good about it. And we won, which is obviously something we want to do."
Ball movement. Phoenix assisted on 21 of their 33 made shots Tuesday night.
Perhaps more impressive, Griner and Dupree combined for eight assists which meant passing from the inside out was effective when a double team came - certainly a good sign moving forward.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Candice Dupree had her best game of the season Tuesday night.
Dupree finished with 19 points and eight rebounds on 9-of-12 shooting in 32 minutes. But more than that, she was assertive and aggressive in her attack on the offensive end.
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
11- the number of turnovers the Mercury had, which is closer to where they would like the number to be. Conversely, Seattle turned the ball over 15 times.