Mercury Soar Past Storm in Game 1
By GREGG BELL, AP Sports Writer

Phoenix 101, Seattle 84

SEATTLE, Aug. 24 (AP) -- Diana Taurasi scored 22 points and played rugged defense on Lauren Jackson to lead the top-seeded Phoenix Mercury over the Seattle Storm 101-84 in Game 1 of their first-round Western Conference series Friday night.

Penny Taylor also upstaged Jackson, her fellow Australian and good friend, with 22 points as Phoenix earned its first playoff win since Aug. 27, 1998. The Mercury lost the final two games of that series to Houston, then two straight in the first round in 2000, and hadn't been back to the postseason until Friday.

They now head home, where they were 12-5 this season, for Game 2 on Sunday. Game 3, if necessary, would be Tuesday in Phoenix.

Betty Lennox led Seattle with 23 points. Jackson had 16, eight below her regular-season average, and nine rebounds.

With Hall of Famer Bill Russell watching courtside, Taurasi, the league's scoring leader in 2006, outplayed Jackson, this season's top scorer. Russell, who lives in suburban Mercer Island, Wash., occasionally attends Sonics games, but rarely if ever one for the Storm.

Taurasi wrestled with Jackson through elbows and shoves in the low post while the game was in doubt as Phoenix paid close attention to the MVP candidate. Jackson did not get off a shot from the first quarter - which ended with Phoenix up by five - through the first 4 minutes of the third period, when the Mercury was cruising 74-57.

Jackson eventually had to take her game outside - with the rest of the Storm. Consecutive 3-pointers by Lennox briefly got Seattle back within 84-73 with 6:11 left and had the home crowd roaring. But Cappie Pondexter, who had 21 points, connected before Taylor followed with a steal and two free throws to put Phoenix up 88-73.

The Mercury led by 12 at halftime and Taylor drove past Jackson for a layup 4 1/2 minutes into the third quarter to increase it to 54-36. Kelly Mazzante's 3-pointer off an offensive rebound put them up 67-45 with 3:10 left in the period.

Consecutive wide-open 3-pointers by Taurasi put the Mercury up 43-29 with 3:48 left in the opening half. Taurasi was 6-for-12 and had 17 points the half.

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