Wednesday's mid-day game between the Phoenix Mercury and Minnesota Lynx was most likely a preview of the WNBA Western Conference Finals and the team that comes out of the West will once again be favored to win the title. The Mercury are settling into the season and playing fantastic basketball and Lynx are an extremely well-balanced team with incredible depth.
In the end it came down to a late Mercury run and savvy veteran play from stars Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi that put Phoenix over the top in a thrilling 112-105 win.
The Mercury established the tone of the game early by jumping out to quick 17-4 lead in the opening five minutes against a Lynx team that's held opponents to just 72 points per game on 39.1 percent shooting. The Lynx are a team that likes to run themselves and with all their weapons are certainly able to put points on the board, but the up-tempo game played more into an established Phoenix style.
The Lynx were able to close the lead in the second quarter and went up by 11 points in the fourth before the Mercury went on a 12-2 run in under two minutes thanks to four three-point shots. With the Mercury down one with 1:11 to go, Taylor missed a three but came back on the other end and stole the ball and was fouled and hit both free throws. On the next possession, Diana Taurasi at the end of the shot clock drew contact while attempting a three-point shot and hit her free throws as well.
Those five points from the line were the difference in the game and the difference between these two teams. The Mercury might not have more talent than the Lynx, but they have more experienced players who have proven they know how to win big games. This was a big game.
The Lynx have a lot to feel positive about heading into next Wednesday's rematch in Phoenix. They dominated the boards 39-32 and controlled the paint. The Mercury needed a season-high 14 three-point shots to win the game. Both teams will be looking to improve their defense when they meet again.
The Mercury had five players in double figures with Taurasi (27 points) pacing the team. DeWanna Bonner had a season-high 24 points off the bench while Candice Dupree and Penny Taylor each added 19. The Lynx were led by Seimone Augustus' 22 points. Maya Moore had 15 in her first game against the Mercury.
With this win, the Mercury move into first place in the Western Conference at 9-4, a game ahead of Minnesota, San Antonio and Seattle (all 7-4).
Fun Note from Lynx PR:
- Phoenix and Minnesota combined to produce 217 points, representing the highest-scoring regulation game in WNBA history. The previous record of 214 was set in Phoenix' 123-91 victory at Tulsa on July 22, 2010.
- The Mercury's previous visit to Target Center (July 24, 2010) resulted in a 127-124 double-OT win by Phoenix, the league's biggest scoring night overall.
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