Mercury Get Big Win Against Sue Bird and the Seattle Storm 94-78
Phoenix Mercury helps their cause in the playoff run with probably the biggest win of the season, with a fourth quarter route of the fourth place Seattle Storm.
The FootPrint Center was packed from top to bottom, and the atmosphere felt much like a playoff game.
The buzz in the building was from a few big storylines, none bigger than the final regular season game of star point guard Sue Bird of the visiting Storm.
Bird and Mercury legend Diana Tiaras have been through a lot of battles on the court with and against each other for almost three decades including their UConn days.
Before the contest the mercury crowd and team gifted Bird with a cool pair of sneakers with the storm colors and Sue Birds’ number 10 on side of them.
The Bird farewell tour made its stop in the Valley, but the festivities may have been somewhat of a Storm distraction late as the crowd and the electric atmosphere was too much to overcome.
The Storm coming in the fourth-best team in the league and may have overlooked a lowly Mercury squad that is shorthanded and outsized in the middle and hanging on by a thread for their playoff lives.
Speaking of the middle, the return of brief former player Tina Charles was part of the big momentum push from the Mercury from start to finish as the crowd made sure to let her hear the boo’s immediately when she touched the ball.
The night got started off with a flagrant foul from Charles to guard Skylar-Diggins-Smith in the first minutes of the game, as Smith drove to the hole got a big winding swipe at her head from Charles.
The initial call was a common foul, but Skylar got up steaming mad and fired up that Tina did that intentionally and the foul was looked at and later upgraded to a flagrant one penalty.
That seemed to have set the tone for Diggins-Smith’s game on the evening, as she got angry at the sight and taste of her own blood.
Reminded me of an old Bruce Lee flick, as soon as blood is tasted, the opposition has no chance to win.
While the referee’s were looking at the replay to determine the grade of the foul, Skylar was pacing the sideline and being calmed down by coaches and teammates. Then she looks away from the court to the front row fans and said
“Okay, they started right, yall saw that, now I got to finish it” with a scowl on her face pacing back and forth.
Skylar goes off with a 35-point and 6-assists assault on the Storm defense and was a +23 on the floor going 12 of 19 fold goals and 3 of 5 from three.
The game was tight throughout three quarters entering the fourth quarter with the Storm leading by 5 points 65-60.
Then Diana and Skylar took over the offense, as Brianna Turner and Sophie Cunningham took care of the defensive end and the Mercury destroys Seattle in the fourth quarter 34-13.
After the game, the most unconventional thing took place in the press room, as Sue Bird of the losing team joined her best friend Diana Taurasi at the podium to speak on the experience of the night.
Head Coach Vanessa Nygaard in the presser said “Momentum from tonight’s game may have had a lot to do with the return of Tina” the girls got up with a little extra charge to get some revenge.
But Coach Nygaard also added that keeping this momentum will be tough but she believes that the playoff run will keep the team in the right mindset the rest of the way.
Los Angeles comes to the FootPrint Center on Thursday and the WNBA playoff race is getting closer and closer, and the mercury snatches back the 8th seed for the time being.