Taurasi's Jumper Lifts Mercury Past Lynx
On July 31, the Lynx snapped the Mercury's 16-game winning streak (the second longest in WNBA history) with a 75-67 win in Minnesota.
Nine days later on August 9, with the Lynx nursing an 11-game winning streak, the Mercury would return the favor.
That is to say, one day after signing a multi-year contract extension, Diana Taurasi once again demonstrated why she's one of the best women's basketball players of all-time. With 2.9 seconds remaining in a tied 80-80 game, the "White Mamba" hit an impressive 20-foot jumper to put the Mercury up by two, 82-80. Brittney Griner then blocked a layup by Minnesota's Lindsay Whalen to seal the win.
"It was kind of a simple play," Taurasi said about her game-winning shot. "There wasnít much time left, so it was kind of get the best shot and hopefully it went in, and today it did. [There were] a lot of plays that led up to that, that really kept us in the game. That was just kind of the last play."
The Mercury is now 3-1 against the Lynx this season, and has a 2.5-game lead on the second-place Lynx with four games remaining.
"Thatís playoff basketball, really," Sandy Brondello said afterwards. "I mean itís back and forth, to and fro, and it was just physical. Just a great standard, really. Two of the best teams in the WNBA, and that showed."
Saturday's win was the 26th of the season for the Mercury who are now two victories shy of matching the WNBA single-season record for wins with four games remaining. It was also the team's 14th consecutive home win; Phoenix has not lost a game at US Airways Center since May 23, a string of 78 days. The Mercury is a franchise-record 15-1 at home this season.
"Thatís huge for us," Brondello added about getting closer to home-court advantage in the playoffs. "Thatís what you play for, all these regular season games at this point, is to have home court advantage. Itís to be able to come into the playoffs and play in front of your fans. Weíre a little bit closer."
Taurasi finished with a team-high 24 points to go along with five rebounds and five assists. Brittney Griner tallied a double-double of 19 points and 11 rebounds in addition to her game-saving block. DeWanna Bonner added 16 points and seven boards while Penny Taylor pitched in 13.
The Mercury fell behind early on in the first quarter and trailed by 13 at one point. But Phoenix slowly kept methodically chipping away at Minnesota's lead starting on the defensive end of the floor. After allowing 28 points in the opening quarter, Phoenix held the Lynx to just 16 in the fourth.
"I knew we were going to get her the ball, and I knew she was going to make the shot," Brittney Griner said about Taurasi's jumper with 2.9 seconds left. "Thatís exactly what happened. If she keeps making shots like that, she canít retire until I retire."
Next up, the Mercury heads out on a two-game road trip on August 12 and 13 where they'll face the Liberty and Dream.
DeWanna Bonner and Candice Dupree. The duo combined for 22 points and 16 rebounds, including clutch shots at key points in the second half to keep the Mercury within striking distance.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
The "White Mamba" wouldn't let the Mercury lose. In addition to her 24 points and game-winning shot, Taurasi also had a game-high five assists.
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
20-1: the Mercury's record with the starting lineup of Taurasi, Taylor, Bonner, Dupree and Griner.