Katie Smith leads Seattle Storm over Phoenix Mercury
SEATTLE – Katie Smith scored 11 of her season-high 26 points in the third quarter to help the Seattle Storm beat Phoenix 85-70 on Friday night and clinch home-court advantage against the Mercury in the WNBA playoffs next week.
Tanisha Wright added 18 points and Sue Bird 15 for Seattle (20-13), which has the tiebreaker against Phoenix (19-14) for the No. 2 playoff seed in the Western Conference with one game remaining. The Storm won the season series 3-1.
Diana Taurasi scored a season-high 36 for Phoenix. She had 28 in the first half, three shy of the WNBA record, to help the Mercury to a 41-35 lead.
Phoenix opens the best-of-3 series Thursday at Seattle, which has won seven of eight.
Smith came into the game averaging 6.6 points with a season high of 16, against Phoenix Aug. 16.
Le’coe Willingham, Wright and Bird hit 3-pointers and Bird made two free throws to give Seattle a 69-58 lead with 5:45 left in the game. The Mercury never threatened again.
Smith scored 11 straight, including three 3-pointers, in the third quarter to help rally the Storm from a nine-point deficit. Seattle is 7-1 since Lauren Jackson returned after missing 20 games with a hip injury, although Jackson had only four points and did not score until the fourth quarter.
The Storm improved to 14-2 at home. Phoenix is 8-9 on the road.