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June 11, 2008 at 6:18 PM

Mercury game thread

STORM WINS: Swoopes hit a three-pointer with 30.9 seconds remaining and the Storm stayed undefeated at home with an 83-77 victory before 7,483 fans. Phoenix attempted 31 three-pointers, 21 by Pondexter and Taurasi alone, which is a Storm opponent record. But the Mercury didn’t try to grab any rebounds, allowing Seattle a franchise-best 52. Cash scored her 2,500-point off a jumper with 8:42 remaining in the second quarter and Swoopes scored a season-high 17 points. Jackson even got an earmark game with her first double-double (20 points, 17 rebounds). With Ely playing well off the bench and the starting five clicking, it was entertaining all-around. Bird was even funny afterward talking about her horrible shooting night, “You know it’s bad when the free throws don’t go in and then the crowd starts to cheer for you — the pity cheer. That’s life.”
INJURY UPDATE: Ely is fine, just a little shook from the fall. And Bird is back to normal, too, hitting a driving layin with 4:19 remaining in the game for her first field goal. Storm leads 70-63, keeping Pondexter quiet (and in foul trouble with five). But Taurasi is putting on a show with 34 points to make the score 70-66 with 3:27 left.
ELY DOWN: Reserve Shyra Ely appeared to take a charge on Pondexter (it was ruled a Ely foul) and was plowed over, remaining backside on the court for a moment. She was assisted to the locker room. We’ll have an update later.
BIRD OFF: Crowd is on its feet in sympathy of Bird, who can’t even hit a free throw! She made the second to cheers from the KeyArena crowd. Man, maybe she ate the spiked cupcake instead of Taurasi.
BE AGGRESSIVE: The Storm is going stronger to the hoop and dominating on the boards for a 43-24 rebounding advantage to stretch their lead to 56-49. Griffith has gotten into the game offensively, scoring nine points in the quarter. Bird is still frozen, missing two more buckets for 10 whiffs total.
HALFTIME BOOGIE: The Storm invited dad and daughter ballroom dancing duos to perform during the break and it’s sweet. They do this overseas and it always looked like fun on TV. Glad the Storm is trying something different and bringing the event stateside. But press row doesn’t ever think we’ve seen ballroom dancing to Evanescence before.
MERCURY RISING: Taurasi found her stroke and has a game-high 17 points in the opening half to drag Phoenix within 36-35 after a spinning jumper on Bird’s coverage. No other Phoenix player has cracked five points, however. The Storm has missed 30 attempts and is staying afloat on the backs of Cash (14) and Swoopes (10). The Storm is also using their rebounding advantage (29-17) to keep the Mercury from completely taking over.
FLARED TEMPERS: Griffith and Taurasi locked arms and got a little testy under the Phoenix hoop. Bird helped unhook the players. Things are chippy as ever and entertaining to watch. Except the shooting from Bird, who is 0 of 7 with three rebounds and two assists in 17 minutes.
SHOOTING LULL?: If it weren’t for Bird (0-for-4) and Griffith (0-for-3), Seattle would be sizzling offensively while playing solid defense on Phoenix. Cash is leading with 12 points and Swoopes is 3-for-5 for eight points. Taurasi is back on the court and is 4 of 8 for 10 points. Still, Mercury is down 30-24 with 5:11 remaining in the half.
SPOTLIGHT ON DAD: In between quarters the Storm pointed out Bird’s dad being in attendance along with Seahawk receiver Bobby Engram (and his daughter). Robisnon’s father is also seated courtside with the owners. Engram is a friend of Cash’s fiance, who also played football at Penn State.
NO LOVE II: OK, this is ridiculous. Pondexter was wronged on the latest call, even though you could hear a clap, it was a soft foul that could have slid. It didn’t though, and she has three, taking a seat next to Taurasi. Her replacement, Kelly Mazzante just hit a pretty three-pointer to keep the score tied at 18 points apiece. So far the Storm has been to the line seven times compared to Phoenix’s two.
NO LOVE: KeyArena is loving that Taurasi has picked up two quick fouls while defending Jackson. She’s still sqwaking on the bench and has been heckled to “stop whining.” On the last one, it looked like Taurasi was going to throw a puch at her close friend in frustration. But this answer the question for the WNBA — no, there’s no fix to keep “star” players on the court. Storm leads 12-10.
SWOOPES IS BACK: Swoopes said on Tuesday that she woke for the first time without any pain, proclaiming herself about 97 percent healthy after undergoing back surgery in October. She’s rocking on the court tonight, shooting 2 of 3 to start for six points and two steals. Storm is tied 10 all with 4:09 remaining in the opening quarter.
BIRTHDAY BUCKET: This is the last of Taurasi’s big day mention. She made her first bucket, a three-pointer, off a screen at the top of the key. She missed the second, so maybe she won’t be on fire tonight. Storm is down 3-1. On defense, Taurasi is covering Jackson in their roving 2-3 zone.
MORE ON WNBA ADS: So, LJ’s topic for the “Expect Great” ad is “tall girls can’t shoot” and Bird’s is something about girls being too emotional to play hoops. A Mercury spokesman said Taurasi and Pondexter’s are about being in the zone and scoring, respectively. Filming didn’t end until about 10 p.m. on Tuesday because Pondexter had to have her hair done and Phoenix flew in that day. The ads won’t run until late in the season on through the upcoming NBA season to keep the league in people’s mind. That’s the smartest thing about the commercial.
Contrary to what Phoenix coach Corey Gaines reported after shootaround, not everyone is healthy for tonight. C Tangela Smith is a scratch to play due to swelling in her right knee. She said it’s a precautionary measure and nothing to be alarmed about. Gaines said their trainer made the decision once the team arrived to KeyArena this evening.
Cupcakes are everywhere for Mercury F Diana Taurasi’s birthday. Storm C Florina Pascalau was gobbling one piled with white frosting during pre-game and Mercury G Cappie Pondexter had one, too. Storm C Ashley Robinson and her father baked the treats for Taurasi, a former AAU teammate of Robinson.
But Pondexter told Taurasi that she wasn’t feeling too good after eating the treat. “I think I’m going to throw up,” she said. Taurasi responded, “that’s not a good idea.”
“It was good, but it’s all the sugar. I was trying to burn it off. I’ve never done that before,” Pondexter said when she took a break from pre-game sprints on the court. Her normal meal routine is eating fish or chicken by 2 p.m. taking an hour nap, waking to gospel and clearing her mind for the game.
I’ve seen two incidences of people pulling over to vomit on Interstate-5 this week, hopefully it wasn’t preparation to cover it tonight. Anyway, here are the starting lineups:
F Swin Cash
F Lauren Jackson
C Yolanda Griffith
G Sheryl Swoopes
G Sue Bird
F Diana Taurasi
F Le’Coe Willingham
C Barbara Farris
G Cappie Pondexter
G Kelly Miller
Tonight’s officials are Clarke Stevens, Denise Brooks-Clauser, and Maj Forsberg.



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