Over the course of the long season both the Phoenix Mercury and the Tulsa Shock have spent their share of time in the cellar out west. This late in the season a match-up between the teams -- who combine for 13 wins -- is merely for pride.
These two teams have locked up three times this season already. The first two went to the Mercury and were the teams only wins during a tough 2-7 start to the year. Unfortunately the last match-up went to the Shock and provided them their first win of the season after starting off 0-9 on the year.
It is always fun playing the Shock as they are led by Tameka Johnson who played the past three seasons with the Mercury.
This game was uncomfortable from the start as the team came out with only eight players in uniform with DeWanna Bonner was not listed as a starter. Diana Taurasi, Samantha Prahalis, and Bonner all registered a DNP as well and throw in Candice Dupree along with Penny Taylor and you have 78.1 points sitting in street clothes on the bench.
"We knew before tip-off that we were going to have only seven people," stated Briana after the game. "We got our minds right that people that might not have logged as many minutes in prior games would be logging 20 minutes tonight."
Early on the team could not score for anything with lineups that were not used to playing with each other and relying on two bench players.
Lynetta Kizer (19 points 7 rebounds) and Dymond Simon (16 points 6 assists) had career nights coming off of the bench and were nearly enough to pull off the short-handed victory. The Mercury outplayed the Shock in the middle of the game 55-44, but got dominated in the bookend quarters 48-29.
That was the deciding factor for the Tulsa Shock (7-23) as they knocked off the Phoenix Mercury (7-23) by a count of 92-84 setting both teams into a dead tie at the bottom of the west.
The fight in the Mercury cannot be measured by points on the scoreboard at the end of a game. This game told many stories, none of which were that of a team at the bottom of the conference. Overwhelmingly the theme of the season has been about who is not on the court, not about those on the court. With seven total players available for Coach Corey Gaines he turned to three rookies to play major roles.
"Corey tells me to go out there and play like I play in practice which is like basically like pick-up," said Simon after the loss. "This is a great experience for me even though we are not getting the results we want."
When the offense was stalling Simon came in and provided some major energy allowing Alexis Hornbuckle (13 points 3 assists) to get her groove going on offense. Once that happened she became a highlight reel with two amazing crossovers that led to a great finish at the rim and then a Magic Johnson like pass to Simon for a mid-range jump shot. WNBA.com needs to reevaluate the voting for the leagues best crossover after Buck went And-1 style on the Shock defenders.
For the Mercury it is not about the amount of dogs in the fight, but the fight in the dogs that are fighting. This pack of dogs can fight.
Up next for the Mercury is a visit from the Chicago Sky (12-18) a team they are actually 1-0 against after beating them back in late June. Take a break from football and check out the Mercury at 3 p.m. local time.