Mercury-Storm Preview

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 01, 2013
Both the Phoenix Mercury and Seattle Storm opened the season in forgettable fashion. While there's reason to believe the Mercury will be able to get things turned around, the Storm look like they could be in for a long season. Brittney Griner and the Mercury try to bounce back Sunday night when they visit the injury-plagued Storm. Phoenix's opener against Chicago on Monday was one of the most highly anticipated regular-season games in franchise history, but the fans who had been anxiously awaiting Griner's debut had little to cheer about. Griner picked up her third foul with 2:35 left in the first quarter and went into halftime with two points and the Mercury trailing 56-32. The 6-foot-8 center finally got into a groove after halftime and finished with 17 points, eight rebounds, four blocked shots and a WNBA-record two dunks, but Phoenix's deficit was too much in a 102-80 defeat. Although the Mercury suffered their most lopsided home-opening loss, Griner's strong second half combined with solid performances by Diana Taurasi (18 points) and Candice Dupree (15) after the two All-Stars missed much of 2012 due to injuries is encouraging. "The way (Griner) came out in the second half was good news," Taurasi told the Mercury's official website. "To be on the bench the whole first half and come out in the second and play well, if we can get two halves of that then we have a chance at winning some games." Without its centerpiece, however, Phoenix's offense sputtered, finishing with 14 turnovers to 13 assists. It shot 42.6 percent compared to 50.7 for the Sky. "There's no doubt we could have played better," guard DeWanna Bonner said. "The team on the court tonight isn't the one we know we can be. But we'll get back in the gym and work on getting better. We have a group of players here that understand what it's going to take. "You always learn a lot in a loss." The lesson learned by Seattle in its 102-69 loss to Los Angeles last Sunday is that nothing is going to come easy in a season without Lauren Jackson (hamstring) and Sue Bird (knee). Without their two All-Stars, the Storm shot 3 of 17 from 3-point range and allowed the Sparks to hit 62.1 percent of their shots. "On the bright side of it, it's just (one) loss, no matter if it's just by two points of 50," Tina Thompson told the Storm's official website. "The bad side of it, we got beat bad. It's a little embarrassing. We've got a lot of work to do." Thompson made her 437th start, breaking the career mark set by Taj-McWilliams-Franklin, and Friday announced she will retire after this season. The first overall pick in the inaugural WNBA draft in 1997, Thompson scored nine last weekend to boost her all-time record to 7,018 points. Camille Little led Seattle with 13 points against the Sparks, and averaged a team-best 15.0 in helping the Storm go 4-1 against the Mercury last season. Dupree and Taurasi each played in just one game against Seattle in 2012.
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