DeWanna’s Day drives Phoenix
It was “DeMomma” bobblehead night for the mother of twin daughters, so it was only fitting that Bonner was the star on the court to match her bobblehead night. Bonner dropped 31 points on 10-of-21 shooting, including 5-of-11 from 3-point range and 6-for-9 at the line.
“I don’t know if it was the bobblehead or just being fed up with losing to LA. I just really wanted to win and I really wanted to beat them,” Bonner said. “Right now, we need to find a good rhythm to get ready for the playoffs, and that was my mindset.”
Bonner brought the 10,618 people in attendance to their feet with a buzzer-beater from just in front of half court to end the third quarter. With 4.1 seconds left, she inbounded the ball to Devereaux Peters and got it right back as she crossed half court.
Even with three seconds remaining, Bonner planted her left foot on the “E” and right foot on the “S” in “Resort” of the “Talking Stick Resort Arena” sticker and launched a 3-point heave. The shot swished through the net just as the red lights went off, capping an 11-2 Mercury run to end the third.
“I was going to take it, it just more so getting my feet set. Make sure I had my feet set, get a good look at the rim, and she backed off, so I hit it.”
But as her longtime teammate, Taurasi wasn’t nearly as impressed as others by the shot.
“God I want to get excited, but I’ve seen her do it so many times,” Taurasi said, laughing intermittently. “And today, I had to yell at her, ‘Keep shooting.’ ‘More.’ ‘They’re going to leave you open? More.’
“She was incredible today. She’s playing so well, and when she plays aggressive, she’s so versatile and can do so many things for us. When she plays like that, we’re a really, really good team.”
The 3-pointer capped off an 11-point third for Bonner and gave her 25 on the night at the time, which she immediately added to with another 3-pointer to kick off the fourth quarter. The two triples felt like daggers to Bonner.
“I think at that point right there, I’m like, ‘Okay, we got this,’” she said. “I think it brings a certain energy. When people hit those on you, it drains you and it takes you down a little bit, so I knew it was going to be a good energy boost for us.”
Taurasi’s passing ignites Mercury offense
While Bonner’s 31 points were a season-high for her, it was actually Taurasi who set a career-high on the evening — with her passing, dishing out 14 assists to top her previous high of 12.
“She got the ball in the right places and to the right people and made our job a lot easier,” Bonner said of Taurasi’s night. “She’s our director, so when she calls the play, I know she’s going to get the ball to the right place. We were so wide open because they were doubling her.”
The superstar guard had 10 assists in the first half, including four in the final 3:40 of the second quarter. Agler felt that the Mercury’s 16-4 run in that time to finish out the first half was the biggest turning point in the game.
“It was a tie game with less than two minutes left, and then we went down seven going into halftime,” Agler said. “That started it, and then they gradually separated from us in the third quarter.”
Taurasi knew she had a tough matchup tonight against Sparks star defender Alana Beard, which played into her being more pass-happy. But she acknowledged that she’s dominated a ball a bit to much, at times.
“We’re probably at our best when we play that way,” Taurasi said. “I’ve probably taken a little too much of the scoring load in some games, and I think the last couple of games are more how we want to play.
“We need more balance, we need more scoring from more people. We can’t be easy to guard. Today there was stretches where we went to BG, where we went to DB. I think, overall, it just flowed a little bit better, and when we play like that, it makes it a little bit harder to guard us.”
While Taurasi still scored 20 points, her distribution led to falling just two assists short of the single-game WNBA record and may be the key to how the Mercury’s offense looks going into the playoffs.