Mercury Falls to Storm
The Mercury never truly found their rhythm tonight in an 80-65 loss to the visiting Seattle Storm.
The Storm took control in the third quarter scoring 30 points to the Mercury’s 17. To make matters worse, Phoenix lost starters Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner in the period as well.
Bonner left tonight’s game with 4:44 remaining in the third quarter and did not return due to a sprained right knee. Griner left tonight’s game with 1:47 remaining in the third quarter and did not return to a left ankle injury; X-Rays were negative.
Phoenix now sits at 10-11, one-half game ahead of the Storm for third place in the Western Conference. The Mercury’s 11 losses have been to teams with a combined record of 141-74; 11 of the 12 Mercury losses will have come to teams that would make the playoffs if the season ended today.
Still, while injuries have certainly been a factor in the Mercury’s roller-coaster season thus far, it’s not something anyone on the team feels comfortable using as an excuse.
“We did not play well,” Head Coach Corey Gaines said after the game. “Of course when you lose Brittney and DB within minutes, it doesn’t help. With the injuries now, players have to step up. You want playing time, now you are going to get it.”
For the Storm, Tina Thompson had 19 points and eight rebounds while Tanisha Wright added 19 points. Seattle had 22 second-chance points to the Mercury’s six, and a 38-30 rebounding edge. The Storm (9-11) improved to 3-0 against Phoenix this season.
Candice Dupree led Phoenix with 18 points and eight rebounds. Before getting injured, Brittney Griner recorded four blocks which gives the rookie four consecutive games of three or more blocks. Still playing the lead-guard role, Diana Taurasi has recorded five or more assists in three of the last four games.
With two tough games against the Tulsa Shock coming up, the Mercury cannot afford to spend much time focusing on the past or worrying about injuries. Neither does any good.
Instead, the players that are healthy and able to play will need to step up and assume a larger role. Judging from their reactions after the game, the bench understands what is expected of them moving forward.
“At any point you have to be ready,” said Mercury guard Jasmine James. “That’s what the players on the bench are there for, to be ready to come in when you have injuries like that. The main thing is to stay ready and when you get in take advantage of those minutes and try to be as productive as possible. It stinks that we had those injuries because those are players we definitely need in the game.
”We just have to go back to the drawing board and try to come back on Friday and bounce back from it.”
The Mercury’s three losses to the Storm this season have been by an average of 9.0 points; in those three games, the Mercury have been outscored in the third quarter by an average of 10.7 points (83-51), including a 30-17 disadvantage in tonight’s third period.
Quote of the Night: Jasmine James on the physical battle
“I felt like going into it we knew that it was going to be a battle. We just played in Seattle last week and we have had some time to watch some film and figure out what we needed to work on. It was close; it was a battle just like we thought it would be.”