Postgame Quotes: Western Conference Finals Game 3

MERCURY HEAD COACH COREY GAINES

On the game: “It was a great series. I respect Los Angeles, I’m sorry to see Lisa Leslie’s career end. She’s a great player. I can’t say enough about her. We [Mercury] came out tonight with intensity and a full court style of play that helped push us through to the next round.”

On the 1st quarter: “I made sure that tonight when we came out that I would keep my mouth shut and just let them play. If I don’t call out plays then the team definitely pushes the ball up the court. We just came out and did exactly what our blueprint for the game tonight had on it tonight.”

MERCURY GUARD DIANA TAURASI

On the game: “Tonight it just came down to wanting to win the game more. Unlike last night, tonight we wanted to win. We didn’t necessarily play great basketball on either end of the court but we came out and took the game. Sometimes it’s as simple as that.”

On Lisa Leslie: “The way that Lisa played in this series, she probably has another three or four years left in her. I’ve so much from her in the last eight years of playing professional basketball. Nobody has ever represented the game of women’s basketball the way that Lisa has on and off the court. I think she gives the game of basketball the ultimate respect by playing so hard all the time.”

MERCURY GUARD CAPPIE PONDEXTER

On the game: “I thought we battled tonight for 40 minutes. That was the key coming into tonight’s game. In the previous game Los Angeles came out and took our hearts out from the beginning but tonight we wanted to return the favor. I thought Le’Coe Willingham played exception tonight, on both sides of the court. She made it difficult for Candace [Parker] to get any good looks. She ran the floor really well and she was big for us tonight.”

On playing Indiana in the Finals: “I think it’s going to be a tough matchup. We split wins and losses in the regular season. Indiana plays a different style of basketball; they are more defensive minded. I think it’s going to be great basketball. Great matchups and the team that wants it the most is going to be the team that wins the championship.”

SPARKS HEAD COACH MICHAEL COOPER

On the game: “I thought the Mercury established their game early on us and we just never recovered from it. I thought they did a good job at attacking the basket, and I think last night’s game took a little more out of us than I thought it did. It looked like we were a little mentally weary and also physically. We gave it a great effort, it wasn’t a lay down, the Mercury had to earn it to win it. Congratulations to Corey Gains and his coaching staff and the Phoenix Mercury.”

On coaching Lisa Leslie: “It’s been a joy coaching her and we wanted her to go out on top, but obviously that’s not going to happen. She had a heck of a career, I thought she did a wonderful job for us this entire series and now she has the rest of her life to look forward to. To see her mature and grow and to become the legendary player that she became that’s the fun part about basketball.”

On this being his last game coaching the Sparks: “I leave with a heavy heart, but I know that every minute whether it be practice or video time I know that I gave it my all and I can walk away with my head held high. Even though I’m leaving the Sparks my heart will always be here, and I will always be a part of it.”

SPARKS CENTER LISA LESLIE

On overall series with the Mercury: “It was a great series, I thought both teams fought really hard and home court advantage is truly an advantage. Losing Game 1 we put ourselves in a very tough position and Phoenix jumped on us at the start of this game and never looked back, when you’re hungry and your back is against the wall that’s what you do. Our hats go off to the Phoenix Mercury, they simply get the job done.”

On the first quarter tonight: “I thought Cappie came out really focused and on fire, she was taking it to us, they moved the ball around and I think they figured out our defensive scheme and knew exactly what we were doing. We were trying to keep their shooters from taking those 3’s and once they started penetrating and recognizing that we weren’t helping that’s what they did and it cost us.”

On the end of her career in the WNBA: “I feel great because I know that every time I stepped out on that court I played as hard as I could, I’ve left everything out there and I did my best. That’s all you can do is play your best and try to be the best role model you can, and that’s what I’ve tried to do. Today is my last day of playing professional basketball, but I will stay close to the game because I feel I need to be a part of it.”

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