In celebration of its historic 15th season, the WNBA is honoring the most influential players since its inception in 1997, and announced today the 30 official nominees for the Top 15 Players of all time. The nominees were selected by a panel comprised of media members and basketball experts, with consideration given to such factors as on-court performance and ability, leadership, sportsmanship and community service, as well as to contributions to team success and the overall growth of women’s basketball.
The Phoenix Mercury had their best offensive performance of the season as they dropped 105 points on the stingy San Antonio Silver Stars defense. They scored in the paint (50-30), on the break (13-5) and from the line (27-21) and moved the ball extremely well (27 assists). The only Mercury player who couldn't get her offense going is someone called Diana Taurasi. She went 2-13 for seven points on the night.
Defensively, the Mercury did a much better job trapping Becky Hammon hard off the screens which prevented her from finding open players. They pushed her away from the hoop and rotated well behind the trap. The Silver Stars were without Hammon's pick and roll partner (Sofia Young, illness) but credit has to also go to the Mercury defense for holding their opponent to 43.4 percent shooting.
Penny Taylor picked up Taurasi's scoring slack with 30 points and Candice Dupree recorded her fourth-straight double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds. DeWanna Bonner added eight points and 11 rebounds off the bench and Kara Braxton had a great game with 15 points and nine rebounds. Most of Braxton's points came on put-backs or basket cuts. Just like last season, it seems the Mercury have gone away from straight isolation post-ups and are back to using their ball movement and ability to catch and finish to score in the paint.
The final score is closer than the game actually was. The Mercury were up 17 with under five minutes to go before a flurry of desperation threes cut into the margin a bit. It was the kind of late-game surge that you don't really worry much about.
The Mercury now head to Atlanta for a game Friday and then immediately fly to Chicago for a road game on Saturday. The four-game road trip ends in Indiana on Tuesday with the next home game coming on July 1st against Chicago. Friday's game will be on Fox Sports Plus at 4:30 p.m. Arizona time.
The pick and roll defense against point guard Becky Hammon will need to be much better than it was in the second half of that game where they seemed confused in their rotations by the variety of ways they tried to stop Hammon. They tried trapping, switching, and single coverage going over and under the screen. Even though Hammon only his one three in the game, she was able to pick apart the Mercury defense with her passing.
The Mercury will also need to be much better prepared for rookies Danielle Adams and Danielle Robinson who both change the game in very different ways. Adams with her size, rebounding and outside shooting and Robinson with her blazing speed off the dribble that caused all kinds of havoc in transition. Transition defense for the Mercury has been spotty at best.
The Mercury have gotten solid production from Candice Dupree who recorded three-straight double-doubles in her last three games and set a franchise record with 18 rebounds on Sunday. Diana Taurasi dropped 32 points in the team's first win of the season and vowed after the game to continue being aggressive and looking for her shot.
The game will be broadcast on ESPN 2 at 5:00 p.m. Arizona time.