The Mercury continue their impressive pre-playoff push with a convincing win over the San Antonio Silver Stars. With six players in double-figures, the Mercury spread their point of attack from the 5-foot-3 point guard, Temeka Johnson (17 points) to the 6-foot-6 center, Kara Braxton (17 points, 7 rebounds).
"When you have six players in double-figures, it's not that you're trying to stop one or two players, you're trying to stop six and that was just too much for us tonight," San Antonio coach Sandy Brondello explained.
Phoenix blew the game open in the second quarter with a 24 to 12 period and never looked back. They shot over 60 percent from the field and finished with a devastating 52 points in the paint.
The Silver Stars got solid performances from their big three - Becky Hammon, Sofia Young, and Chamique Holdsclaw but the lack of scoring ability from the rest of the roster was apparent.
The Mercury were able to put their best perimeter defenders, DeWanna Bonner and Diana Taurasi, on All-Star point guard Becky Hammon. Hammon still finished with 21 points but only had three assists and wasn't able to lead her team the way she normally would.
Coach Brondello talked about her team's lack of additional ball-handlers, "They put Bonner on (Hammon), they're switching pick and rolls, this is a long team. It's not that she's got (Temeka) Johnson on her, but she's always got a lot of pressure on her so she's not getting many open looks as she usually did in the past. I suppose we're missing a player like Vickie Johnson who took a little pressure off her."
Coach Gaines of course, is happy with how his team is playing, "We're going in the right direction, a flow. Kind of in attack mode and healthy. We just run faster, we rebound better, we execute better."
He thinks new addition Kara Braxton is getting into "Mercury" game shape and can now play in four-minute stretches. He likes the way she's running the floor and getting to the rim quickly and sealing her man but thinks his team can do a better job finding her in the early offense and getting her the ball in the block.
"Now teams are double-teaming before she gets the ball but that's perfect because what's going to happen is we'll just skip pass to Penny (Taylor) in the corner," Gaines said about Braxton's impact in the half-court sets.
One interesting side-note to this game was Gaines constant battle with the officials to call a delay of game penalty on the Silver Stars. From his comments during the game, he clearly thought that San Antonio was touching the ball illegally after made baskets which impacts the game for a team like Phoenix.
"It's our offense because that's how we flow into the game. It's called throw-aheads. Either throw-ahead into a drag, throw-ahead into gets. And it's done so fast, teams can't get back," Gaines said about that type of gamesmanship. "I've been with Coach Westhead for over 20 years. I've seen teams tighten the net. I've seen teams try and hit the ball out-of-bounds. Because it really helps your defense get back."