Storm too much for hobbled Mercury

PHOENIX — A matchup with the Phoenix Mercury usually means a win for the Seattle Storm lately.

Tina Thompson had 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists to lead the Storm past the Mercury 80-65 on Tuesday night in Seattle’s eight victory in the last nine meetings with Phoenix.

Tanisha Wright also scored 19 points and Shekinna Stricklen added 13 to help the Storm (9-11) win for the third time in three matchups with the Mercury this season. Seattle is 14-2 against Phoenix going back to the beginning of the 2010 season.

“Sometime matchups in the WNBA they kind of go that way but I would definitely credit everything to our defense,” Thompson said. “Considering the lull we had offensively, I think we were very consistent defensively and that kept us in the game.”

Seattle shot only 29 percent from the field in the first half but still led 31-30 at the break. The Storm then took control in the third while Phoenix lost starters Brittney Griner and DeWanna Bonner.

Griner landed awkwardly on her left foot, hurting her ankle, with 1:47 left in the period. The team said X-rays on her left foot were negative. Bonner, the Mercury’s second leading scorer, sprained her right knee with 4:44 left in the third. Neither player returned to the game.

Seattle scored nine straight points and outscored Phoenix 30-17 in the period to take a 61-47 lead.

“I think we were in a good rhythm,” Seattle guard Temeka Johnson said. “It’s unfortunate what happened to DeWanna and Brittney Griner, they are both talented players. I just know we were in a good rhythm at that moment and we capitalized off it and kept going.”

Candice Dupree led Phoenix (10-11) with 18 points and eight rebounds. The Mercury have lost four of their last five overall.

Phoenix coach Corey Gaines didn’t talk about the injuries after the game, other than to say, “Players have to step up. You want playing time, now you are going to get it.”

Seattle, the worst rebounding team in the league, outworked Phoenix 38-30.

The Storm also held the league’s leading scorer, Diana Taurasi, to nine points on 2-of-11 shooting. She had five assists.

“Our concentration, first, primarily, is Diana,” Thompson said. “She’s just that much of a weapon just for her team. We kind of concentrate on her and not let her get comfortable.”

Seattle coach Brian Agler agreed, calling Taurasi, “the best offensive player in the league.”

“She can also distribute and create for her teammates,” Agler added. “We have a ton of respect for her because of her and the other people they have on their team, they are always going to be competitive.”

Thompson scored five of the Storm’s nine straight points in a third quarter stretch as Seattle broke a 38-all tie.

Griner had nine points and four blocked shots when she left while Bonner had 11 points and four rebounds for the Mercury.

“We did not play well,” Gaines said. “Of course, when you lose Brittney and DB within minutes, it doesn’t help.”

Seattle missing nine of its first 10 shots in the second quarter and was only 10 of 35 from the field in the first half. However, the Storm made six straight free throws in the final 1:23 to take the one-point lead at the break.

The Storm beat Phoenix 75-72 on June 2 and 88-79 on Aug. 1, both in Seattle.