Dupree helps Mercury top Storm 92-83
PHOENIX – When the Phoenix Mercury gets their fast break offense going, they can be unbeatable, even against a team that has dominated them for three seasons.
Candice Dupree scored a season-high 29 points and the Mercury beat the Seattle Storm 92-83 on Saturday night to even their Western Conference playoff series at a game apiece.
"We kind of were reacting to them as opposed to dictating things," said Seattle's Sue Bird. "With a team like Phoenix, you can't do that, you really can't."
Phoenix outshot, outrebounded and beat Seattle inside in recording just its second win in their last 12 games against the Storm dating to 2009.
"Shot the ball better, up-tempo game is our game," Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. "I guess if we walk the ball down the court and play their style, they are better at that than we are. Hopefully we are better at the up-tempo game than they are."
Diana Taurasi added 26 points for the Mercury.
Game 3 is Monday in Seattle.
"A lot of it was just being aggressive," said Dupree, who averaged 14.6 points a game during the regular season. "I think as a whole we were really passive up there in Seattle in the first game. This game we attacked a lot more."
Bird had 17 points and four assists for the defending champion Storm, who had won their last eight postseason games. It was the most points given up by Seattle all season.
"They set the tone early on," Bird said. "Obviously, we are a defensive-minded team and we were not just helping ourselves."
Phoenix led by as many as 15 but Seattle ran off 10 straight points to get within five with 4:10 left. But it couldn't complete the comeback.
"Dupree really was comfortable out there tonight," Seattle coach Brian Agler said. "She played in her rhythm and did a lot of things she likes to do, whether she faces up (to the basket) and scores on turn-around jump shots or gets to the rim off drives or posts up on the block off a seal."
Dupree made 12 of 14 shots as the Mercury consistently found her inside, taking the pressure off Taurasi, the league's leading scorer who missed eight of her first 10 shots, and Penny Taylor. The Mercury's second-leading scorer is nursing back spasms that kept her out of five the last six games of the regular season. Taylor finished with 12 points and played more than 30 minutes, as all the starters did on Saturday.
"It was a game we needed to win," Taurasi said. "We had to come out with that urgency, with that effort."
Tanisha Wright sparked the late run with consecutive 3-pointers and a pair of free throws that trimmed the Mercury's lead to 81-76. She finished with 18 points and four rebounds despite being hampered by foul trouble for much of the night.
Phoenix got layups from Taurasi and Dupree on the next two possessions to extend the lead and secure the win.
"Tonight we were able to run the ball down their throats and wear them out," Dupree said.
The Mercury shot 55 percent from the field and outrebounded the Storm 37-24. Phoenix also outscored Seattle in the lane 58-12.
DeWanna Bonner added 13 points and 13 rebounds for Phoenix. Dupree was 12 of 14 from the field and grabbed seven boards.
Seattle missed five of its first six shots and Phoenix built a nine-point lead in the first quarter, despite Taurasi missing eight of her 10 shots in the period.
Katie Smith helped the Storm rally in the second quarter, making four straight 3-pointers to get Seattle within one with 4:24 to go. Smith finished with 14 points.
Phoenix then forced turnovers on successive possessions and got the ball inside to Dupree for six points in a quick burst late in the first half. The Mercury led 51-40 at the break.
Phoenix has not won in Seattle since Sept. 10, 2009.