Home sweet home

  • Associated Press
  • Friday, September 9, 2011 12:01am
  • Sports

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 playoffs next week.

Tanisha Wright added 18 points and Sue Bird 15 for Seattle (20-13), wh

ich 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. But after tying a league record with six 3-pointers in the first half, she did not make one in the second.

Phoenix opens the best-of-three 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 led 58-56 after three quarters.

Taurasi scored 20 in the second quarter, two shy of the league record she set in 2006. She had 12 during a 16-4 run to give the Mercury a six-point lead after trailing 31-25.

Smith scored 15 in the first half and had 12 to help give the Storm a 21-15 lead after one quarter. She was 4 of 4 from the field, including a 3-poiner and three-point play in the opening period.

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 dropped to 8-9 on the road.

Phoenix played without Penny Taylor, who has missed four of the last five games with muscle spasms. Taylor averages 16.7 points.

NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell watched the game from a front-row seat and received a standing ovation when introduced to the crowd. Russell lives on nearby Mercer Island.

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