Mercury rally to beat Silver Stars 90-79

PHOENIX(AP) Phoenix made the playoffs in each of the four years it has won its opener.

The Mercury hope to extend that trend this year.

Diana Taurasi scored 25 points, Cappie Pondexter added 23, and the Mercury rallied to beat the San Antonio Silver Stars 90-79 on Saturday night in a season-opening matchup of the WNBA's last two Western Conference champions.

The opener proved a reliable playoff predictor for the Mercury in its first 12 years. In the four years the Mercury won its opener, it qualified for the postseason every time - and missed the playoffs in the eight years it dropped the first game.

"That's a nice little tale,'' Taurasi said. "Hopefully we can add on to that. Let's add on to that stat.''

Last year, Phoenix stumbled in its defense of the 2007 WNBA title, losing its first four games, and the Silver Stars supplanted the Mercury as Western Conference champions.

This time, the Mercury have high hopes because they've added to their potent 1-2 scoring punch with first-round draft pick DeWanna Bonner. The reedy Bonner, who is 6-foot-4 and 136 pounds, had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Phoenix.

"The kid's good,'' Taurasi said. "She's a little deer. She has no meat to carry on those bones.''

Bonner, an Auburn product, proved a headache for the San Antonio frontcourt, which couldn't keep up with her as she raced down the floor.

"Bonner was the wild card to me that was the difference in the game,'' San Antonio coach Dan Hughes said.

Sophia Young scored 25 points and had 10 rebounds, and Becky Hammon added 20 points for San Antonio. Ruth Riley had 12 points and 13 rebounds for the Silver Stars.

Up 71-65 with 7:51 to play, the Silver Stars appeared headed to their fifth straight win in the desert. But Bonner scored back-to-back layups and the Mercury went on a 9-0 run to take a 74-71 lead midway through the quarter.

San Antonio wilted down the stretch, committing consecutive turnovers as the Mercury stretched its lead to 85-76 on Temeka Johnson's 3-pointer with 2:20 to go. The Silver Stars didn't threaten the rest of the way.

The Mercury bounced back after a dismal first quarter. San Antonio jumped out to an 18-10 lead after one period, with Phoenix shooting only 20 percent (4 of 20) from the floor.

Phoenix hit 30-of-56 shots (53.5 percent) the rest of the way and finished at 44.7 percent from the floor.

"We started off shooting the ball bad - pitiful,'' Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. "But I knew that wouldn't last.''

Phoenix played for the for the first time with "Lifelock'' across the front of its jerseys, part of a sponsorship deal with a Phoenix-area identity-theft protection firm.

Calendar Strip here