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Game-ending 15-0 run seals Storm’s trip to WNBA finals

Mon., Sept. 6, 2010, midnight

Sue Bird wanted no part of a deciding game with a spot in the WNBA finals on the line.

Thanks to her clutch shooting, the Seattle Storm won’t have to worry about that risky proposition.

Bird made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 2.8 seconds left Sunday and the visiting Storm closed out the Western Conference finals with a 91-88 victory over the Phoenix Mercury, closing the game with a 15-0 run.

“I know I didn’t want to play Phoenix in Game 3, that would have been very, very hard, even on our home court, it would have been very difficult,” Bird said.

“So the best part about that shot, the best part about winning this game, is the series is over and we have a week to prepare, and to rest.”

Diana Taurasi, who finished with 28 points, missed a contested 3-pointer at the buzzer for Phoenix.

The Storm earned their seventh consecutive win and advanced to the finals for the first time since they won it all in 2004.

They will meet the winner of the Eastern Conference finals between Atlanta and New York, which began Sunday night in New York. Atlanta won the first game 81-75 as Angel McCoughtry scored 13 of her 21 points in the fourth quarter.

As for the Storm, Sunday’s win was obviously a big boost as Seattle bids for its second league championship.

“The last five years we haven’t gotten out of the first round,” Bird said. “For us, there is almost a series of humps – we had to get over the hump to get out of the first round, to be in the Western Conference finals.”

Swin Cash had 23 points and eight rebounds, helping Seattle erase an 88-76 deficit with 3:21 left in the second game of the best-of-3 conference finals. League MVP Lauren Jackson added 20 points and eight boards while Bird finished with 16 points, eight assists and five rebounds.

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