The saying goes: When it rains, it pours. As it stands, the Phoenix Mercury have endured enough rain and finally found a ray of sunlight. In the midst of one of the worst losing streaks in franchise history, the Mercury found enough strength to turn the corner and pull out a victory.
"It's always good to win," Diana Taurasi said. "We needed it in the worst way."
Truer words could not have been spoken.
The game started as a pleasant return for Cappie Pondexter. A memorial video was played, she received a standing ovation, and she received her 2009 WNBA Championship ring. Hugs and kisses were shared between players and staff, and it seemed that all road bumps had been smoothed out.
However, things didn't stay sunny for long. In the middle of a New York Liberty run that cut the Mercury lead, Cappie committed a hard foul against Penny Taylor. Taylor sprung up and charged at Cappie. The good feeling of merely an hour ago vanished in an instant. Diana Taurasi sprinted to the aid of her teammate, but it wasn't until a few pushes and a shove to the neck of Taurasi that Cappie was finally detained by her teammates.
"It's just part of the game. You get over it and move on," said Taurasi of the incident. "I have a lot of love, but on the court, you have love for the people that are wearing your jersey."
She went on to say that it was "water under the bridge, really", but the Liberty declined any availability to the media to comment on the scuffle.
"Well, you know Cappie always gave good fouls," coach Corey Gaines said.
Candice and Tangela's Big Night
In a largely disappointing season for Tangela Smith, it seems she's finally found her rhythm. Over the past two games, the 33-year-old center has shot 8-for-10 from 3-point range. While she still gives up some size and strength against larger, more athletic players, she is finally finding her groove in the role that helped the Mercury win their championships. In tonight's game against the Liberty, Smith double-doubled with 21 points (7-12 FG, 5-7 3P, 2-2 FT) and 10 rebounds.
While Candice Dupree was never dubbed as "struggling" so much as it was getting used to the system, it seems like she has also finally found her rhythm.
"She's been playing like that the first four or five games we had," Gaines said. "What happened was she just wasn't used to the pace. It took us our first year to the midpoint to get used to playing; she just did it a little faster. I just had to tell her what to do. Her body wasn't ready yet. She was hurt the first eight games, but we just didn't tell you guys. She had a pulled quad. She couldn't run or move very well. We didn't say anything, but that's why she couldn't move. Now she's healthy."
When asked about her individual evaluation of her performance, Dupree said with a smile on her face, "I feel like I'm running a lot better. I'm getting shots in the flow of the offense. Trying to rebound the ball a bit more. Overall, I think I'm doing a lot better than I was at the beginning of the season ... I'm just trying to do as much as I can to help the team win."
News and Notes
- Tangela Smith looked to be moving slowly, and when asked if she was injured, coach Gaines said, "That's why she's shooting better. No, seriously. She was too healthy before. You're laughing, but that's the case. When a person feels good, you start doing other things that you really can't do. Then when you get hurt, you have to only do the things you can do ... I hope she stays like that for the rest of the year."
- Ketia Swanier may have had the best summary of just how it felt to break the losing streak. "Oh my gosh, it feels amazing. I don't think anybody on this team ever lost six in a row. Ever. Staff included. It feels amazing; yeah, it feels good."
- After making her first two field goals, Tangela Smith surpassed Sheryl Swoopes for fifth on the all-time WNBA scoring list.
- With her 20 points, Diana Taurasi set a new franchise record by reaching double-figures in scoring in 37 straight games. The streak is the longest active in the WNBA and surpasses Pondexter's previous mark of 36 games.
- The Mercury improved to 5-1 when holding its opponent under 90 points and 4-1 in games decided by greater than 10 points.