Diana Taurasi spent nearly as much time on the bench as she did on the floor in Game 1. She finished with 10 points in 22 minutes.
D. Lippitt/NBAE/Getty Images
Mercury Out of
Sync in Game 1
By Brian Martin, WNBA.com

AUBURN HILLS, Mich., Sept. 5, 2007 -- Even after her team scored 100 points in the highest scoring game in WNBA Finals history, Cappie Pondexter still said the Phoenix Mercury were not able to get into their rhythm.

“We were off from the beginning. We didn’t play 40 minutes of Mercury basketball,” she said after her team's 108-100 loss in Game 1 to the Shock. “I don’t think we were in a Phoenix Mercury rhythm from the beginning.”

Pondexter had a hard time finding her shooting rhythm in the first half as she connected on only 3 of her 15 shots before the break.

“I kind of settled for a lot of jump shots when they went into the zone,” she said. “They’re shots that usually go in, but they didn’t tonight.”

Pondexter finished with 27 points, but needed 28 shots to do it. She scored 21 of those points in the second half as she stopped settling for outside shots and took the ball to the basket more often and was able to get to the free throw line.

A bigger problem for Phoenix was Diana Taurasi picking up four fouls and scoring zero points in the first half. She picked up her second and third fouls in a span of 14 seconds in the second quarter. She was forced to the bench with the three fouls, but re-entered the game with just over three minutes left in the half. Twenty-four seconds later, she went back to the bench after picking up foul number four.

“She’s a vital part of our team and not having her throughout the course of the game definitely does make a difference,” Pondexter said of Taurasi. “She’s important. We need her scoring efforts, we need her defense and assists and anything she can give us.”

Things didn’t get much better in the second half for Taurasi as she picked up her final two fouls in just over nine minutes on the floor. She played a total of 22 minutes on the night and scored only 10 points for Phoenix, half of her average output so far in the playoffs.

“(Being in foul trouble) throws you off, especially when you’re used to getting big minutes and playing a lot,” Taurasi said. “It’s frustrating because you want to be in the game, you want play. When they take that away from you, it’s definitely frustrating. But that’s why it’s a team. We have 12 players on this team and whoever is in there, we have the utmost confidence in them.”

Two players that stepped up while Taurasi was down were Kelly Mazzante and Belinda Snell, who scored six points apiece in the second half to keep the Mercury within striking distance.

“All in all, I think as poor as we played, in the last two minutes we still had a chance,” Taurasi said.

The one player that seemed to be in rhythm all night was Penny Taylor, who scored a game-high 32 points and posted team highs in rebounds (nine) and assists (seven).

While Detroit’s front line of Kara Braxton, Plenette Pierson and Katie Feenstra dominated the paint against the Mercury, Taylor was able to exploit them at times with her quickness.

“That’s been the thing for me all season: I’m playing against post players. Well, I’m a post player at this point, but I’ve always played at the guard position,” she said. “Coach encourages me to take people off the dribble, take it hard to the basket, and post up when I need to. That’s all I was trying to do, take the ball to the basket, get fouled and make free throws.”

But Taylor’s efforts were not enough for the Mercury in Game 1 as the Shock prevailed to take a 1-0 series lead with Game 2 set for Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to the next game,” Pondexter said. “We’re going to let this go behind us. We know it’s a five-game series and it’s not won in the first game.”