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Jayda Evans covers college and pro women's basketball. While its her first year on the Washington beat, she has covered the Storm since its inception. She'll offer observations, critiques, occasional off-beat tales and answers to select e-mail inquires. Evans also has written a book on the Storm and women's hoops, called "Game On!"

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July 25, 2008 6:32 PM

Mercury game thread

Posted by Jayda Evans

REALLY OVER: Storm lost 94-80 to finish the road trip at 2-2. It's not what they wanted, but still an improvement on the 1-6 showing prior to this big stint away from KeyArena. The team will wrap up play before the break with a matchup against Sacramento on Sunday.

GAME OVER: Don't like to do this, but Taurasi just hit one of those three-pointers where the ball doesn't even touch the net as it floats through with grace, making it apparent this is not the Storm's night. The three-pointers, especially the ones Miller gets on the third offensive rebound, are really hurting Seattle. Anyway, the Storm trails 80-66 with 6:33 left in the game.

SMITH DOWN: Griffith went for a clean steal and was fouled by Smith, her third. But both went tumbling to the court and Smith has yet to get up. Agler mentioned prior to the game that Smith plans to have surgery on her knee during the Olympic break. It wasn't confirmed by Mercury PR, so we'll see. She walked off on her own. Phoenix is up 72-62 with 8:59 remaining in the game. UPDATE: Smith gave a quizzical look when asked if she'd have surgery on her knee during the break, "No! Where did you hear that?" she said after the game. She's had problems during her 11-year career in the league, but will use the break to get some rest like everyone else.

CAGED BIRD: The focus of Phoenix's defense has turned to Bird, who is 1-of-7 from the field and just turned the ball over with a travel call.

GO YO: Griffith was 0-for-4 from the field in the opening half, but she's acting like she took a little swig of the youth juice at the half to help the Storm. She's scored 12 of her 14 in the third, but Phoenix's quick scoring keeps teetering the lead from a one-point deficit to the current 72-61 at the end of the quarter. Seattle is really going to have to play strong defense and hit shots in order to pull this out -- duh!

EASY ELY: Ely was open under the hoop for a bucket from Griffith to tie the score at 54 points apiece with 4:54 remaining in the third. The hot shooting for Phoenix has cooled. Actually it's turned comical as both Taurasi and Pondexter have had shots go in the basket only to rim out in that agonizing way -- if you're a Phoenix fan. The Mercury is shooting 40 percent from the field to Seattle's 44.7.

GETTING CLOSER: A huge block by Cash on Taurasi was muddled by a made Miller three-pointer, but the Storm is still inching back into the game. They're down 52-48 with 6:51 remaining in the third quarter, using an 11-3 run to make this interesting. Forgot to mention, but the Mercury s playing zone on the Storm and did so in the opening half, too.

QUICK TIMEOUT: The Storm made the opening two baskets of the second half, looking like the team that won eight of its past nine games, so Phoenix coach Corey Gaines called time. Play is resuming now and Seattle is down 47-37 to open the third quarter.

SPOTTED: Former Storm original Charmin Smith is watching the game. Somewhere Chelle Thompson is in the building, too. The Storm just closed the half down 47-33, stopping the Mercury from making the score worse, but unable to convert on the offensive end to cut more into the deficit.

HOT MERCURY: It was about 113 degrees today in Phoenix and I'd say the baskets for the Mercury are even hotter. The team is shooting 51.9 percent from the field, helping them take a 42-27 lead with 2:44 remaining in the second quarter. The Storm inched as close as eight points, but the hot shooting is burying them. Agler has rotated in everyone but Kelly Santos and Kristen O'Neill and can't find the right defensive combination.

THE OTHERS: Storm coach Brian Agler was concerned about stars Taurasi and Pondexter, but he really was bothered by the thought of what Miller, Smith, and Kelly Mazzante would do to his tea,. Well, they're playing big roles in the Mercury leading 26-14. Manzzante hit a key basket during a run and Smith is 3-of-4 from the filed while Miller is 2-for-3. For the Storm, Shyra Ely is playing well off the bench, but the Storm is still making small errors that have led to the first-quarter deficit (26-17).

LITTLE IS BIG: The Storm is down 16-8, but Little is starting off hot again. She has six of Seattle's opening eight points. Cash commented that the team needs to start games like she does -- fully of energy. And the Storm doesn't look relaxed, but all the sun could have played a factor in them getting into the game. Bird is sporting a nice tan and Katie Gearlds has pink legs and arms.

The Mercury has been traveling and didn't have much media availability, so star Diana Taurasi hasn't had much time to comment about the scuffle between Los Angeles and Detroit on Tuesday. And she didn't hold back on Friday.

Taurasi loved the fight, of course, saying with a huge smile, "You definitely have to keep your cool, but who doesn't like watching a nice fight? It's acceptable in every other sport -- football, hockey they're like go ahead and punch it out and cool down. Everybody needs a cool down. There's nothing wrong with that. It's sport and sometimes it gets to that point. Not everyone is a saint, it's unfortunate, but it happens. What are you going to do? Shutdown the league? Shutdown the studio like Puffy?"

But the suspensions? Well, she's right in line with many who posted on this blog. Taurasi was extra hyped about the disparity because she received two games in 2007 for verbally accosting an official. As a reminder, Los Angeles players Lisa Leslie, DeLisha Milton-Jones, and Candace Parker were suspended one game for throwing punches.

"The suspensions were crap," Taurasi said. "I get two games for doing nothing and you've got people punching people and they get one game? To me, that's not justice."

Taurasi and her team have bigger issues, however. The defending champions are 3-7 in their past 10 games, last in the Western Conference. Taurasi said the team losing focus for stretches during games and didn't want to deny the impact the loss of Australian Penny Taylor has this season. Taylor is missing at least the opening half of the season to prepare for the Olympics with her national team.

With the loss of the Aussies -- Seattle is without Lauren Jackson for two more games -- Seattle guard Sue Bird expects the Mercury to start with zone coverage then switch to a lot of man-to-man. Seattle is starting guard Tanisha Wright again because forward Sheryl Swoopes is out with a pulled right hamstring.

Swoopes said the injury feels better than it did on Thursday, but not well enough to play.

Here are your starting lineups:

STORM
F Camille Little
F Swin Cash
C Yolanda Griffith
G Tanisha Wright
G Sue Bird

MERCURY
F Diana Taurasi
F Le'Coe Willingham
C Tangela Smith
G Cappie Pondexter
G Kelly Miller

Tonight's lovely officials are Sue Blauch, Michael Price, and Jeffery Smith.

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