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Mercury Cold Shooting And Interesting Tactics Lead To Game 1 Loss

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When Diana Taurasi goes 2-for-15 shooting and finishes with six turnovers and six fouls and only one assist then you know the Mercury are going to have a hard time winning.

She was aggressive early attacking the paint but the Storm made a concerted effort to put several defenders in front of her. Taurasi clearly was looking for calls that didn't come and it seemed to impact the rest of her game.

Taurasi accepted responsibility for her poor game.

"I couldn't make a shot," she said. "I never blame the defense on missing shots. I had some really good looks, which I usually knock down, but tonight they didn't go down. Hopefully on Sunday I can get it together a little bit."

There's little doubt that Taurasi will bounce back with a better showing on Sunday for Game 2.

Overall, the poor shooting from both teams was some what understandable given the long layoff but there were two decisions from Mercury coach Corey Gaines that were ... interesting.

Zone defense?

The Mercury defense has improved considerable this season and especially late in the summer. Despite better rotations and improved aggressiveness, Gaines went almost exclusively to his rover zone in the first half. The result was a passive look from the Phoenix team and 47 points allowed in the first twenty minutes.

Lauren Jackson was able to get open for shots both inside and out and scored 17 of her game total 23 points in the opening two periods.

In the second half, Gaines went back to the man-to-man defense we've seen more of recently and it was much more effective. The Storm were held to 35 points on 38 percent shooting in the final two periods.

Going small

The second interesting decision was how little Gaines used his best lineup which consists of DeWanna Bonner on the floor instead of undersized point guard Temeka Johnson. Bonner finished with only 22 minutes compared to 32 for Johnson. DeWanna certainly didn't look as sharp as we've seen her and perhaps she's dealing with an unreported injury or illness.

Kara Braxton was effective in her floor time as well finishing with a well-deserved +1 while all the Mercury starters where in the minus. Braxton was able to score against Lauren Jackson in the post on several occasions and was and efficient 5-for-7 from the field in her limited minutes (13:42).

Box score anomaly

Some interesting findings looking at the box score from this game:

  • The Mercury only shot 38% but the Storm weren't much better at 38.8 percent
  • Both teams shot poorly from the line: 64.7 percent for Phoenix, 69 percent for Seattle
  • The Storm hit 10 three's but took 25 shots to do it while the Mercury hit 9 three's on only 15 shots (Taylor was 4-for-4)
  • The Storm were +6 in total rebounds but only +1 on the offensive glass and both teams finished with 13 second chance points
  • The Mercury didn't run much in this game (as expected against Seattle's tough defense) but they were up 11-to-6 in fast break points
  • The Mercury had 36 points in the paint which is a bit low for them but the Storm only score 20 in the painted area
  • The Mercury had 11 turnovers and the Storm 10 with the Mercury scoring 10 points off turnovers and Seattle 5
  • Phoenix had 22 fouls compared to 20 for Seattle

Looking at these numbers it's hard to understand how this game wasn't closer. The big difference was at the line.

  • The Storm had 29 free throw attempts compared to only 17 for Phoenix and the 9 addition points scored from the charity stripe were a big difference in the game