Storm 80, Mercury 61
Tanisha Wright and the Seattle Storm got their offense rolling and finally figured out a way to slow down high-scoring Diana Taurasi.
Wright scored 21 points, and Camille Little had 17 points and 11 rebounds to lead the defending WNBA champion Storm over the Phoenix Mercury 80-61 on Thursday night in the opener of the Western Conference semifinals.
Lauren Jackson added 13 points, six rebounds and three blocks for Seattle, which led 69-42 after three quarters. Swin Cash added 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Taurasi, who averaged 21.6 for Phoenix to lead the WNBA in scoring for the fourth straight year, had just 11 points. She shot 3 of 11 from the field, including 1 of 5 on 3-pointers.
''Last game we played them here, we really let her get some shots off,'' Wright said of Taurasi's 36-point outburst last week in a loss to the Storm. ''With a player like Diana, she's going to knock those down all night. Tonight, we tried to do a better job of just staying in her space, make her make tough shots.''
Taurasi never could get untracked.
''Obviously, I didn't play as well as I wanted to,'' Taurasi said. ''But I'm more worried about our team. You get 36 and you lose and it doesn't matter. You get 11 you lose, so it doesn't really matter how many points you score until we can find a way to beat this team. We'll see if we can find that answer.''
Phoenix will host Game 2 of the best-of-three series on Saturday.
Penny Taylor scored 13, and DeWanna Bonner added 10 - all in the first half - to lead the Mercury.
''We couldn't get her open shots,'' Mercury coach Corey Gaines said about Taurasi. ''She's coming off of picks, and we couldn't get our run game going. They switched, we swung the ball around and the people who were open couldn't hit the shots.''
Little and Cash scored six points apiece as Seattle outscored Phoenix 29-11 in the third quarter. The Storm used a 14-0 run over the final three minutes to take a 69-42 lead at the end of the period.
''I don't know if we did anything in particular,'' Storm coach Brian Agler said of the third-quarter outburst. ''It was what we were doing much of the game. We got some transition buckets. We got to the free-throw line. I just thought we ran really efficient offense. A lot of it came from out stops defensively.''
Taurasi was 0 of 5 from the field as the Mercury shot 4 of 22 (18.2 percent) in the third quarter. Seattle shot 9 of 17 (52.9 percent).
Wright and Little both had 11 points, and Jackson added nine to help the Storm to a 40-31 halftime lead.
Wright netted seven points during a 17-7 run to close the first half after Phoenix led 24-23 early in the second quarter.
Bonner scored 10, including two 3-pointers, to help the Mercury tie it at 19 after one quarter.
Seattle was 9 of 9 on free throws in the first half. Phoenix was 1 of 2.
The game turned physical as Taurasi received a technical foul in the third quarter after kicking her leg at Wright after a foul by Wright. Little was given a technical in the second quarter after getting tangled with Taurasi away from the ball.
Little responded to her technical moments later with a three-point play on a strong move to the basket.
''That kind of thing does fire me up a little bit,'' Little said. ''And I like to bring energy to the team whatever I can do. I'm glad I could finish that play. I think it gave us a boost and we ran with it.''
The Storm won the season series 3-1, including an 85-70 victory last week to earn the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference.
Mercury starting center Nakia Sanford missed the game because of a sore knee. She averages 4.2 points and rebounds per game.
Seattle has won 11 of 12 games against the Mercury, including a sweep in the West finals last year. The Storm improved to 16-2 at home this season.