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After the first two games of the series saw the Mercury fall into big holes and rally in the fourth quarter only to come up short, Phoenix ran away in Game 3 and earned a big win to extend its series against Seattle. 

By Associated Press
September 01, 2018

PHOENIX — DeWanna Bonner had 27 points and 11 rebounds, and the Phoenix Mercury scored the first 14 points of the fourth quarter to beat the Seattle Storm 86-66 on Friday night to force a Game 4 in the WNBA semifinal series.

The Mercury had fallen into big holes and rallied in the fourth quarter, only to come up short the first two games of the series.

Phoenix kept it close in Game 3 at home and made another big run in the fourth quarter to cut Seattle's lead to 2-1 in a series that heads to Game 4 on Sunday in Phoenix.

The Mercury suffered a blow before the game, learning starting forward Stephanie Talbot would not play due to a concussion. Phoenix also had to play through a difficult night offensively for Diana Taurasi, who had eight points on 3-of-11 shooting.

Brittany Griner had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Yvonne Turner had 19 points in Talbot's place to help the Mercury end a 10-game losing streak in WNBA semifinal games.

Natasha Howard had 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Storm. Breanna Stewart added 15 points and 11 rebounds in Seattle's eighth straight road playoff loss dating to 2011.

Seattle won the first two games with the same score (91-87) and the same formula: Use big runs in the middle two quarters to build double-digit leads, then hold off a pair of late Mercury charges. The Storm. who often turned missed shots and turnovers into transition points during their big runs, were not able to get out on the break when Phoenix rallied.

Phoenix got off to third straight good start in the series, hitting 10 of 21 shots in the first quarter to lead 26-16.

Just like the first two games, the Storm answered with a big run, using a 15-4 stretch to go up 31-30.

This time, the Mercury didn't wait until the fourth quarter to answer, building the lead back to 42-35 behind Bonner's 18 points.

GRINER'S BLOCKS

Griner blocked a shot and has 77 in the playoffs during her career, tying Ruth Riley for second on WNBA's all-time playoff list. She still has a long way to go for the top spot: Lisa Leslie has 132 career playoff blocks.

TIP-INS

Griner and Seattle's Alysha Clark both fell to the floor holding their heads after a collision midway through the third quarter. Griner was called for an offensive foul and remained in the game. Clark returned a few minutes later. ... Jewell Loyd and Sue Bird, Seattle's second and third-leading scorers, combined for two points on 1-of-18 shooting. Bird did have 11 assists. ... Phoenix had 13 assists after averaging 23.3 in the playoffs.

WHAT'S NEXT

Game 4 is Sunday in Phoenix.

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