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Topic: Phoenix

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September 26, 2012 at 7:20 PM

Phoenix wins WNBA’s 2012 Draft Lottery

GrinerDunk.jpgTwitter’s sports world blazed with anger again on Wednesday. Instead of the NFL’s controversial Seahawks win, it was in the WNBA’s corner as Phoenix nabbed the No. 1 pick in the league’s draft lottery aired on ESPN.
The Mercruy (7-27) had a 27.6 percent chance to win the coveted top pick. Coach Corey Gaines beamed like a Cheshire Cat when the ping-pong balls — previously conducted — led to WNBA president Laurel Richie unveiling Phoenix as the winner.
“I have at least 40 texts and I haven’t gotten a chance to look at all of them, but when I was walking out the door, Diana (Taurasi) hit me with a ‘Wow’,” Gaines told reporters in Bristol, Conn.
Washington (5-29) was most-likely to win the draft lottery (44.2 percent). And the dejected look on co-owner Shelia Johnson’s face said it all when the Mystics received the fourth and final lottery selection.
Angry tweets hit my timeline because most assumed the Mercury “tanked” this season in order to select 6-foot-8 center Brittany Griner, the assumed top pick to any team holding the position. She helped Baylor go undefeated in winning the school’s second NCAA championship last spring with her defensive capabilities. She was a household name before picking a college when a video of her dunking went viral.

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August 30, 2012 at 6:10 PM

Live game thread: Phoenix at Seattle. This time with WNBA MVPs

STORM LOSES: Talk to the Storm players and the 75-68 loss to Phoenix on Thursday was its worst game of the season. I’ve seen worse, like letting LA swipe a win from them and Indiana walking Seattle down in the fourth quarter to win at the buzzer. Phoenix outscored Seattle 13-2 to open the fourth quarter to cement the win. What was particularly odd was Bird and the Storm’s defense getting picked apart the way it did. She had a game-high five turnovers and the Mercury had six steals in the second half. The moxie — orchestrated by Taurasi — helped Phoenix snap a 10-game losing streak. “She gives them a mentality of expecting to win,” Agler said of Taurasi’s second game since the league’s Olympic break. Jackson said she still doesn’t feel she completely fits into the Storm’s system. She only took two shots in the pivotal fourth quarter while Bird and Wright were a combined 0-for-7 from the field in the final 10 minutes. A once clear playoff picture now starts to get a little muddled. The Storm still has a sizable lead on Tulsa (6-19) with nine games apiece remaining. Yet, nothing is guaranteed. The Storm plays a home-and-home against Tulsa next week. One win would give the Storm a playoff tiebreaker against the Shock. Seattle owns the playoff tiebreaker against Phoenix 3-1 with one game remaining in that series. “There are only nine games until the end of the season and that’s not a lot of time,” Bird said. “Now that we have our full roster we can’t take our time. Don’t get me wrong, Phoenix played well. you definitely have to give credit to them. But at the same time, this was a very uncharacteristic game by us at both ends of the floor.” Little led Seattle with 11 points. Prahalis had seven of her final 16 points in the fourth quarter. Bonner led the Mercury with 24 points and 11 boards. The Storm will take two days off before returning to practice on Sunday.
ROOKIE BATTLE: Strick nailed a tough three-pointer to give Seattle another brief lead (54-52) with 17.1 seconds left in the third. But Prahalis juked Jackson on a drive to drop a pretty jumper in the net to tie the score at 54 points all. She screamed at Jackson as she backpedaled. Not a good idea? I’ll have the answer after the game. Leaving the blog to focus on the newspaper version. There have been nine lead changes and six ties in the game. Bonner had a game-high 20 points. Little has 11 and Wright has 10 for Seattle.
NAILS AND FISTS: Seattle took its first lead since the first quarter after two FT by Jackson. But it wasn’t easy or did it last long. The Storm had to scrap for balls and open looks to get the 50-49 advantage. Might need to check for blood and bruises after the game. Bonner quickly responded with a three-pointer off a no-look feed from Prahalis. It’s 52-50 Phoenix.
ALL SMILES: Nakia Sanford was called for a loose-ball foul against Jackson and Taurasi had something to say about it. The latter was tagged for a tech, smiling all the way to the bench as KeyArena jeered. Sanford later scored in the paint to zap any momentum, Seattle trailing 47-43 with 4:50 left in the third quarter.

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August 30, 2012 at 1:48 PM

Game Day: Phoenix at Seattle

Taurasi.pngPhoenix G Diana Taurasi is scheduled to play her first game against Seattle at 7 p.m. Thursday at KeyArena. But until you see her there — even after a morning shoot-around — who knows?
That’s a result of a series of late scratches to begin the second part of the WNBA season after the London Olympic Games. First it was rest then Taurasi missed her first post-Olympic break game at KeyArena due to having her wisdom teeth removed.
Thursday will be her second game of the season, previously not playing since May due to a hip flexor injury. She scored 19 points in a loss to Indiana on Saturday, the Mercury’s 10th consecutive loss.
“We’ve been running the same stuff for a long time so it felt like I never left,” Taurasi told reporters. “It’s been a couple long months but I felt good out there.”
Phoenix has been outscored by 15.5 points during its skid. It’s a team-record downfall, landing the Mercury (4-19) last in Western Conference standings. The Storm (11-13) is fourth, six games ahead of Tulsa for the final playoff berth.

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August 16, 2012 at 6:41 PM

Live game thread: Phoenix at Seattle

STORM WINS: The Storm defeated Phoenix 72-58.
CHECKING OUT: Leaving the blog to write the newspaper version of the game. My computer is out of juice (rookie mistake) so I won’t be back for a final wrap. I’m stealling energy from columnist Jerry Brewer now. The Storm is up 70-55 with 2:30 remaining in the game. Little is the Storm’s leading scorer with 17 points. Wright has eight assists. Phoenix’s losing streak is now seven games. Seattle improves to 10-10.
ZIP LINE: Smith collected a rebound and whipped the ball down court to Abrosimova, who zipped it inside to Clark for one of the highlight plays of the night. The layin at the 1:21 mark gave the Storm a 51-40 lead, largest of the game.
BIRD OUT: Bird was diagnosed with stomach flu and will not return.
CHECK THAT: Bird doesn’t seem to be on the bench. We’re checking it out. Seattle is up 43-36 with 5:00 remaining in the quarter.
ALL IN: Agler is ridding out the rotations without Bird on the court. Smith made it work with a three-pointer to open the third quarter. Abrosimova is starting in Bird’s place. The Storm is up 37-31 after a basket underneath by Bonner.

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August 16, 2012 at 10:12 AM

Game Day: Phoenix at Seattle to start final stretch of WNBA season

LittlePhoenix.jpgThe Storm finally enters the cushy part of its schedule with 10 of its final five regular-season matchups at KeyArena. But the leaguewide hiatus for the London Olympics didn’t exactly produce the result the team wanted.
C Ann Wauters remains out due to a tear in her left Achilles. F Tina Thompson said she’s about 70 percent healed from left knee and ankle sprains while C Lauren Jackson is in her native Australia due to national team obligations.
In a phone conversation on Wednesday, Jackson said she was denied an original request to return home as planned with PG Sue Bird. The switch came because Jackson was named flag bearer and had a remarkable run in the Games, setting the all-time women’s Olympic scoring record (575) and the rebounding record. The latter can’t be proven because FIBA didn’t keep cumulative stats for rebounding in previous Games.
Now Jackson is at the forefront for numerous celebratory events. She is expected to return to Seattle on Monday and could play in Tuesday’s televised game against Minnesota depending on jet lag.
“I feel like I’m playing well and want to keep playing,” Jackson said. “I’m really proud of everything that’s happened to me. It’s an unbelievable experience.”

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July 8, 2012 at 5:47 PM

Live game thread: Phoenix at Seattle

STORM WINS: Bird was a little tongue-tied in postgame interviews — a rarity for the PG. “See, that’s why I don’t do it as much,” she joked with reporters of scoring a season-high 31 points in the 83-68 win against Phoenix on Sunday. She only attempted one shot — a three-pointer — in the second half, which put the Storm up 54-34 with 6:48 remaining in the third quarter. Bird knew of her record (33), it happening in a win against Portland that put Seattle in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history, but she didn’t go for the mark. Agler said he didn’t know, so there was no reason to play her more than three minutes in the fourth quarter. “We were up 20. I think I would look a little ridiculous trying to go for some career-high,” said Bird who was 10-for-11 from the field, connecting on five three-pointers. “That’s not me. Who knows what would have happened if the game was close, I can’t speak to that. But at the end of the game, my teammates were doing a great job and I wanted to get them in the flow as well.” Little had 18 points and a season-high nine rebounds while Kobryn had 10 points before fouling out in her first career start. She’s scored in double figures in her past three games — a first for her. Seattle improved to 8-9 with two games remaining before the league-wide Olympic break begins July 14. But Agler is concerned about making it there with the hobbled roster. Little and Wright were blanketed in ice postgame to ease nagging injuries. “We probably won’t overdo it in practice,” Agler said of Bird’s play. “She’s not the only one. We’ve got multiple people hurting right now. We’ve got people who are playing big minutes who are not 100 percent. We’ve just got to find a way to play Wednesday and then go to Phoenix for our last game before the break.”
SPOTTED: Seahawks stars Kam Chancellor and Richard Sherman made their second trip to a Storm home game, tossing shirts during a timeout in the fourth quarter. The Storm is up 77-60, handing the Mercury its fourth consecutive loss. Check that. Bird with a game-high 31 points served up the loss. There’s 2:21 remaining in the game.
BREAKTIME: Seattle is up 62-45 and Bird is close to her record with 31 points on 10-for-11 shooting from the field. Seattle is shooting 56.3 percent (9 for 16) from three-point range to compensate for getting outscored 16-14 in the paint. I’m taking a break to write the newspaper version of the story. Check the Twitter feed to the right (@JaydaEvans) for the final score. I’ll return after postgame interviews to wrap it all up.
HALFTIME: So, Bird is a bucket behind the Mercury’s lead at the break. She has 26 points on 9-for-10 shooting from the field and Phoenix is down 45-28 overall. Bird’s career record is 33 points set in 2002 against Portland. I was at the game and she was just as amazing as she is tonight. But it is interesting she hasn’t topped that mark since. Her high was 29 points last season. Phoenix simply doesn’t have any consistent scoring options, so its rebounding, hustle and work on defense isn’t making a difference in the score. The Mercury is shooting 27.6 percent in the first half led by 10 points from Bonner. Avery Warley has six boards off the bench. The toughest challenge will be holding control of the game. We’ll see how that goes in the second half.

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