I am not a big fan of watching basketball on my computer. Old school, I guess. Or just old. But when I checked in on the Mercury game last night and saw it was a close at the end of the 3rd quarter and the Mercury had just put up 36 points in the third to overcome a 15-point deficit on the road ... well, I sat down and watched the fourth. And boy am I glad I did.
Huge performances by the team's stars, Taurasi and Pondexter, were overshadowed by Tangela Smith's 15-point third and Tameka Johnson's 12-point fourth. Big names doing big things is expected. The rest of the team stepping up to get a road win is fantastic and the sign of a very good team.
Adding to the intrigue was the confidence Coach Gaines showed in his rookie DeWanna Bonner by giving her the ball with the game tied and DB24 delivered to take a two-point lead with about 9 seconds to go. The Monarchs came back and went to their huge advantage in the paint and got a bucket from fellow rookie Courtney Paris to tie the game.
At that point, with 1.8 seconds on the clock, the worst the Mercury could do was another overtime against the Monarchs and you had to figure the play would be a shot for either Taurasi or Pondexter, but Gaines rolled the dice and went with the hot hand. Point guard Tameka Johnson -- who is better known for her playmaking than scoring -- nailed a 14-foot runner to get the 107- 105 road win.
The Monarchs are a tough match-up for Phoenix despite their 3-10 record because they get so many points from their bevy of post players and they are very strong on the glass, whereas the Mercury struggle. This played out yet again as Sacramento had a 20-point advantage in the paint and shot over 53% as a result, but the Mercury found a way to win with balanced scoring and better poise down the stretch. Six Mercury players were in double figures and with the defense focused on superstars Cappie and DT, a couple of other players stepped up big.
This was a fantastic road win, not because it put the Mercury in the lead in the West by a full game over Seattle, but with the way the team got it done.
The Mercury have only 9 more home games this season so it might be time to climb on board the bandwagon and get ready for what could be another championship run in Phoenix.