Mercury Notebook: Squandering Big Lead No Big Deal

By Devin Hicks
eastvalleytribune.com,
Aug. 29, 2007

While the Mercury were able to complete a sweep of the Seattle Storm on Sunday, things were looking bleak late in the game.

The Mercury blew a 22-point lead but managed to stave off the Storm, 95-89, to earn a trip to the Western Conference finals against San Antonio in another three-game series beginning Thursday at the AT&T Center.

A similar scenario happened in Game 1 of the series, where again, Phoenix was able to escape with the win.

Phoenix’s Diana Taurasi said the team’s failure to secure a large lead isn’t a concern of hers.

“It’s the playoffs, people are going to make big runs,” Taurasi said. “You need to be tested in the playoffs, that’s why we’re here against the best teams.”

The Silver Stars, led by point guard Becky Hammon, should test the Mercury and their zone defense throughout.

Hammon finished third in the league in scoring (19 points per game) and led the league in assists (5.1). She carved up the Mercury at US Airways Center for the Silver Stars’ only victory in the season series.

If Phoenix blows a late lead against San Antonio, Hammon could seal the deal.

“Everybody is saying she is the MVP, I’d say she is the Most Valuable Nightmare,” Mercury coach Paul Westhead said of Hammon.

Mercury forward Penny Taylor said Sunday’s blown lead had some positives and negatives.

“In the negative sense we let them back in, but I think the positive is how we reacted to it and made massive shots when we needed to,” Taylor said.

“I think that gives the team a sense of confidence that if it does become a close game, we can get ourselves out of it and win the game.”

THE INVISIBLE FALL

The practice court at US Airways Center went dead silent for several seconds Tuesday with fears of the worst possible scenario.

With nobody within 10 feet of her, Taurasi hit the floor, lying on her back in pain before being helped up and walking gingerly off the court.

Taurasi was standing near the 3-point line when she took a step and rolled her right ankle, causing shocked teammates and coaches to rush to her side.

“I’m fine, it’s just a little rolled, it’s not a big deal,” Taurasi said.


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Taurasi sat out the rest of the practice and had the ankle wrapped with ice, but seemed to be walking around fine after practice.

Westhead started Tuesday’s workout with live offense versus defense drills but decided to switch strictly to offensive drills because the practice was getting a little tough.

“It’s the old story; you try and get clever, but sometimes too clever is dumb,” Westhead said.

Taurasi laughed off the big scare.

“Sometimes you can’t even run a dummy offense because even the dummies can get hurt, the dummy got hurt today,” Taurasi said.

BONUS SHOT

A limited number of lower-level tickets remain for Saturday’s Game 2 and Sunday’s Game 3 (if necessary). Lower-level seats cost $11.25 and can be purchased by calling (602) 252-9622 or visiting www.phoenixmercury.com or the US Airways box office and Ticketmaster locations.

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.