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Mercury Lose To Storm But Accomplish Their Goals

Mission accomplished. The Mercury got through this game with no injuries which was really all that mattered.

Coach Corey Gaines talked about meeting that goal, "That's all I'm looking for. As soon as I saw Penny (Taylor) fall down I was like 'get her out of there'."

The Mercury lost 78 to 73 but in a game where Diana Taurasi didn't play at all and Penny Taylor only played 7 minutes that's not too bad. The Storm didn't push too hard either but got a total of about 101 minute out of their normal starting five compared to only about 44 minutes for the Mercury top five.

The Mercury bench players accounted for 50 of the team's 73 points and 62.5% of the minutes played compared to Seattle's 33 points and 47.5% of the minutes.

There wasn't too much to note about the game itself with so many reserves on the floor but the one matchup that could come into play if these two teams meet in the Western Conference Finals (which seems to be destined) is Kara Braxton going against Lauren Jackson.

There are very few bigs that Kara can't attack one-on-one but she had little success against the Australian super star tonight.

Braxton give her good friend Jackson a lot of credit but wasn't willing to fully concede the advantage either, "I give her a lot of respect, she's a great player. She's a tremendous athlete so I just do whatever I can against her so if she gets one up on me that's just how it goes some days."

Kara is getting into "Mercury game shape" in her few short weeks here and appreciates the confidence the team has in her but she talked also about the long term plan now that she's signed an extension with the team, "I'm doing as much as I can right now. I'm sure they're going to push me harder but we have a couple more years to get me exactly where they want me to be."

Take that for what you will, in the meantime it's clear that Kara fits in with her new teammates and is well liked and her comfort is showing on the court.

With so many of the starters resting, that left extra minutes for the bench players. Brooke Smith showed once again that she has great feel around the basket. She finished with a season-high 10 points in her 26 minutes and was 5-for-5 from the field.

Sequoia Holmes flashed her athleticism but struggled putting the ball in the hoop and the lack of consistent playing time this season made it difficult for her to be too effective.

Taylor Lilley finished with 14 points on 4-for-10 shooting and was happy to get a lot of floor time (32 minutes). Lilley is typically one of the last players off the practice court and has worked hard on her game.

She talk how her game has improved over her rookie season, "I think honestly it's more of the mental game of it. Just being aggressive and staying so focused in the moment at all times. I think that's something that really progressed in the season."

Taylor said that in practice she pays close attention to what players like Diana Taurasi, Penny Taylor and Temeka Johnson are doing so she can learn from them and add that to her game, "I take advantage of it because that's such a great opportunity for me."

At one point in the third quarter it appeared that Temeka Johnson (5-foot-3) collided with Kara Braxton (6-foot-6). Both were down on the floor for a few minutes. Both recovered and continued to play and both said they were fine.

Coach Gaines said he wasn't worried about the bigger Braxton in the collision but Kara insisted that it was a Storm player that ran into her on a screen. She wasn't even aware that Temeka had gone down also.

Johnson suggested that Braxton fell on her but didn't want to get into specifics with the media around. She did enjoy giving Kara a hard time and taking credit for getting the better of the collision - whatever occurred.

All that really matters is that both players, who will integral to the Mercury's playoff run, are fine.

Johnson talked about the difference between this year's team going into the playoffs and last year's, "Definitely a better rebounding team but we're better defensively also, especially in the man-to-man."

The numbers might not show it given the inconsistent season, but I completely agree that this year's team with Braxton and Dupree is better on the glass and the ability to switch screens and better help rotations have improved the defense as well.

Teams that think the Mercury don't play defense will be in for a surprise come playoff time and playoff time is coming soon.

The Mercury open the first round at home on Thursday, August 26 at 6:00 p.m.