Defense Powers Mercury Past Liberty
One of the most impressive characteristics of this year's Phoenix Mercury team is their ability to beat opponents in a plethora of ways.
That is to say, they are able to adapt to various styles of play depending on the flow of the game. Some days they simply are unstoppable offensively (as we saw in their win over the Sparks on Thursday fueled by a 36-point first quarter). Other days, their defense dictates their rhythm.
The latter was the case Saturday night as the Mercury beat the visiting New York Liberty, 78-63. Although Phoenix scored just 78 points, they shot over 50 percent from the field in their sixth straight game (51.7), a WNBA record. During the streak, Phoenix has shot 206-of-385 for a percentage of 53.5 percent.
Phoenix held the Liberty to 32 percent shooting and 14 points or less in two quarters - including a 12-point fourth quarter - as they won their franchise-record 15th consecutive game tying the 1998 Houston Comets for the second-longest winning streak in WNBA history. With the victory, Phoenix has clinched home court advantage in the first round of the 2014 WNBA Playoffs.
The Mercury improved to 21-3 in the win, maintaining the best record in the WNBA. It also matches the second-best 24-game record in WNBA history, trailing only the 1998 Houston Comets and 2010 Seattle Storm (22-2). Amazingly, the Mercury is 15-0 with the starting lineup of Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor, DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner.
'"We're built on defense and we made a team shoot 32 percent on 83 shots," Sandy Brondello said after the game. "We just [executed] when we needed to."
By not trailing at any point in the fourth quarter, Saturday marked the eighth consecutive game in which the Mercury have not trailed in the fourth. Additionally, the team's 78-63 win was the Mercury's 10th consecutive home win by 10 or more points, giving them a share of the longest such streak in WNBA history (2000 Houston Comets).
"We’re just confident in what we have to get done," Diana Taurasi said. "That goes to Sandy and the coaching staff. They really do get us really prepared for every game, every tendency of their best players. So we’re confident in that and then we go out there and try to play really well."
The Mercury continues their two-game home stand on Tuesday, July 29 against the Los Angeles Sparks. Tuesday's game is also the team's annual "Rock the Pink" night. The Mercury will wear all-pink uniforms and host a number of uplifting activities in an effort to celebrate breast cancer survivors and promote breast health awareness.
Home court advantage: Saturday's win at home was the 10th straight for the Mercury, the second-longest home win streak in team history.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
It's a tie between Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree who both finished with double-doubles (Griner was just two rebounds shy of one herself).
Taurasi had 15 points and 10 assists while Dupree had 14 points and 10 rebounds.
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
21 - the number of assists the Mercury had on 31 made shots compared to the Liberty's 11 on 27 made field goals.
TWEET OF THE NIGHT
.@PhoenixMercury what cheat code are you using?— San Antonio Stars (@SAStars) July 27, 2014