The Seattle Storm corrected at least two problems from their last meeting with the Phoenix Mercury to take a 39-30 halftime lead in Game Three of the Western Conference Semifinals at KeyArena.
The generally more physical Storm frontline is already doing a better job on the boards, at least staying within three rebounds of the visiting Mercury. Staying with interior play, the Storm have been far more persistent at getting the ball inside to center Lauren Jackson, who has eight points on just 2-for-6 shooting from the field but earned four free throw attempts as one sign of her increased aggression in the paint.
But after the Storm got up by as much as 18 in the second quarter, the Mercury started to make a comeback with a lineup wrinkle that coach Corey Gaines hasn't used much against the Storm this year: sliding 6-foot WNBA leading scorer Diana Taurasi over to point guard and versatile small forward Penny Taylor over to the shooting guard spot along with DeWanna Bonner, Candice Dupree, and Nakia for a five minute stretch. Not only did it create matchup problems for the Storm around the perimeter, but once again the Mercury's defense gave the Storm problems.
The Storm struggled against the Mercury's long and athletic zone defense, shooting 33 percent in the second quarter and being out-rebounded 14 to 6. The Storm should be well aware that the Mercury are capable of maintaining their defensive intensity after Game Two and it sets up what should be an exciting second half.
Tanisha Wright led the Storm with 13 first half points while Candice Dupree led the Mercury with 10.