Game: Seattle Storm (8-10) at Phoenix Mercury (4-14) When: 7 p.m. Friday Where: US Airways Center, Phoenix, Ariz. Meeting: Second (Seattle 1-0) TV: None
To prep for its upcoming month-long vacation, the Seattle Storm travel to Arizona Friday to cap the first half of the 2012 WNBA regular season against a team that checked out weeks ago.
Losers of its past five games, including an 83-68 loss to Seattle on Sunday, the Phoenix Mercury has played the role of Western Conference doormat since Diana Taurasi went down early in the season with a strained left hip flexor.The Storm is four games ahead of the Mercury for the fourth and final playoff spot with 14 games remaining in the WNBA season. With a win, the Storm can build a nearly insurmountable lead in the standings as they await the return of three-time WNBA MVP Lauren Jackson.
Seattle will likely be short-handed again when it takes on Phoenix. Tina Thompson is out with a strained left knee. Storm head coach Brian Agler said Wednesday he is unsure if Ann Wauters (10.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game) will miss her fourth consecutive game with a partially torn Achilles.
The Storm likely need another sterling effort from Sue Bird. In Sunday’s blowout win over the Mercury, Bird dissected Phoenix’s defense en route to 31 points on 10-11 shooting. She continues to lead Seattle with 13.6 points and 5.3 assists per game.
- Despite a 7-3 record in its last 10 games, the Storm is still 4.5 games behind the third place San Antonio Silver Stars, who have won their past eight games.
- Reserve Storm center Ewelina Kobryn has done an admirable job filling in for Wauters. The Polish sensation has posted double figure scoring numbers in three of her past four games.
- Shekinna Stricklen, the No. 2 pick in the draft, flashed her potential in Wednesday’s loss to the Dream. She finished with 16 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
- The Storm is just 3-8 away from KeyArena this season.
- Russian import Svetlana Abrosimova has been slow to acclimate to WNBA action in her second stint with Seattle. The reserve wing is averaging just over 3 points a night in her first five games.
- DeWanna Bonner leads the Mercury with 20.9 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.
- The Mercury is fresh off a 90-71 blowout loss to the LA Sparks on Tuesday.
- Taurasi played in just two games for the Mercury, averaging 10.5 points per game. Despite her lengthy time off, she plans to participate in the 2012 Summer Olympics for the US Women’s National team. On Wednesday, Taurasi won her third consecutive ESPY for “Best WNBA player.”
Coming Up: All teams take a one-month break before squaring off again Aug. 16 at KeyArena.
Head Coaches: Storm head coach Brian Agler is in his fifth season with Seattle. Mercury head coach Corey Gaines is also in his fifth year in Phoenix.
SEATTLE STORM 2012 SCHEDULE/RESULTS:
|5/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||L||66-72||0-1|
|5/22/12||at Los Angeles||L||74-61||0-2|
|6/3/12||at Los Angeles||L||65-67||1-4|
|6/9/12||at San Antonio||L||67-80||1-6|
|6/22/12||vs. San Antonio||W||82-76||4-7|
|6/30/12||at New York||L||59-77||6-8|
|7/7/12||at Los Angeles||L||59-83||7-9|
|8/18/12||vs. Los Angeles||—||—||—|
|8/26/12||vs. New York||—||—||—|
|9/14/12||at San Antonio||—||—||—|
|9/21/12||vs. San Antonio||—||—||—|