Don't call it the "Prahalis Flu Game," but despite playing under the weather with flu like symptoms Samantha Prahalis had her best game in the WNBA as of today.
It was a battle of past and future for the Mercury and the future is looking very bright at the point guard position. The team welcomed back last years starting lead guard Tameka Johnson and her Tulsa Shock, and in an effort to stay out of the cellar of the Western Conference they brought their A game.
After an opening three gave the Shock an early advantage they were not able to climb back from the 18-5 run the Mercury went on to close the first quarter.
The Shock had their own run in the third quarter trimming a 12 point lead for the Mercury down to 1 in a see-saw battle until Charde Houston made the play of the game. As about seven players fought for the ball in a rugby scrum Houston came flying in from half court to steal the ball away starting a major momentum surge for the Mercury in the early part of the fourth quarter.
In the end the Mercury (2-4) took a step forward with the 79-72 victory over the Shock (0-6), the team is now 2-0 verse Tulsa and 0-4 verse the rest of the WNBA. This win took them out of last place and gave them a sign of good things to come.
The game was decided on the glass as the Mercury were in firm control of the rebounding battle. For the game they had a +12 advantage there and limited the Shock to one shot nearly every trip.
"Rebounding is a desire to get the ball. The last words I always tell them is Get The Ball," was how Coach Corey Gaines described the recent surge in team rebounding the past two games.
This was not the best opponent in the WNBA, but it was the right opponent. The team needed confidence after the rough start to the season. False hope is not what the team needs to focus on after this game, but rather that they have a roster capable of winning games this season with or without Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi.
Losing two All-Stars is never easy, but the team has rallied behind rookie Samantha Prahalis play-making (19 points 6 assists) and the familiar duo of Candice Dupree (15 points) and DeWanna Bonner (23 points 13 rebounds). When the trio is on the same page they are good enough to compete with anyone in the league. If just one or two of them show up, the team is not deep or talented enough to weather that storm.
Those 19 points by Prahalis were two off of the Mercury rookie record for points in a game. The previous record holder DeWanna Bonner had 21 in 2009 and had this to say about her rookies feat, "I have to tell her to stop that. No, she is a great point guard. She gets the ball where it needs to be, scores when we need a bucket, and like I said we have been riding her pretty hard these past couple of days trying to get her to understand Phoenix Basketball."
Rebounding (+12), limiting turnovers (12), and scoring fast-break points (10) were the keys in this victory, a much needed victory for the Mercury. The team is beginning to create a style of their own without their two stars led by Prahalis controlling the offense and according to Coach Gaines, "she will be putting up big numbers soon, 20 and 10."