Mercury Beat Lynx, Advance to WNBA Finals
"It just started," Diana Taurasi said in a team huddle at half court after the Game 3 win at home. "Team on three: one, two, three!"
What more can be said about the White Mamba?
With a game-high 31 points and game-high seven assists, Taurasi led the Mercury to a 96-78 Game 3 win over the Minnesota Lynx on Tuesday evening.
The Mercury will advance to the WNBA Finals beginning on Sunday, September 7 at US Airways Center and will face either the Chicago Sky or Indiana Fever.
Perhaps even more remarkable, Diana Taurasi is now an astounding 7-0 in deciding Game 3s or Game 5s during her WNBA career.
"That says a lot of character about our team," Taurasi said. "After the Minnesota game, I think a lot of us were disappointed with the way we played. Obviously, we give all the credit to them. They went out there and really handed it to us, and showed us why they’re the defending champions and that’s the type of basketball you need to play to win a championship. Tonight, the way we played as a unit on both ends, shows what kind of people we have on this team."
Brittney Griner added 22 points, six rebounds and four assists for Phoenix who held the Lynx to just 11 fourth quarter points while scoring 24 of their own. DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree each had 14 and Penny Taylor added 10.
"Well, that's what this team can do," Sandy Brondello said about the series win. "We just say, ‘We gotta hone in. We’ve got ten more minutes. We gotta play every possession like it’s our last possession, as hard as we can go, and really lock down.’ We had a few breakdowns, especially in that first half there. But in the second half, we just didn’t give up any offensive boards, we played better one-on-one and team defense."
Taurasi scored the first eight points of the fourth quarter to give Phoenix an 80-67 lead with just under eight minutes remaining. That, of course, was followed by an amazing 50-foot shot by DT3 to end the third quarter.
"Well, you see the crowd got into it, and that certainly helps in that situation," Brondello said about Taurasi's 50-foot shot. "But, you know, when anyone makes a big shot like that, you just think, ‘Okay, it’s our night.’ I just thought, the look in their eyes, we just knew that it was like, ‘Ok, they’re good.'"
Dating back to the regular season, the Mercury won its 18th consecutive home game. Phoenix has not lost at home since May 23, a string of 102 days. The Mercury improved to 26-2 overall this season with the starting lineup of Taurasi, Taylor, Bonner, Dupree and Griner.
In this deciding Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, Phoenix shot a season-best 58.7 percent from the floor and had six-of-nine players who attempted a shot shoot over 50 percent from the field; including Taurasi and Griner who combined for 53 points on 21-of-29 shooting.
The Mercury faces the winner of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday, September 7 at US Airways Center.
After scoring three points in Game 2, DeWanna Bonner responded by scoring 14 points and grabbing seven rebounds while playing lock-down defense in Game 3.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
White. Mamba. Taurasi is now 7-0 in deciding Game 3s and Game 5s.
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
21: the number of assists by the Mercury, on 37 made field goals.