PHOENIX —Tameka Johnson made a big difference for the Seattle Storm on Friday night.
Johnson had 23 points and three assists to lead the Storm past the Phoenix Mercury, 81-73.
“I was just taking what they gave me,” said Johnson scored on four layups, three jumpers and was 8-for-8 from the free throw line.
“With a team like Phoenix and all the talent and threats they have, you can’t be lax against them. You have to keep them on their toes.”
Tina Thompson added 18 points and seven rebounds for Seattle (13-13), which has won all four meetings with Phoenix (14-13) this season and has won four of the past five overall.
“It’s hard to measure on statistics,” Seattle coach Brian Agler said. “Some of our stats aren’t real impressive but for whatever reason, they really play well together. We’ve gotten better throughout the year. They are sort of a team of intangibles.”
Candice Dupree had 17 points, and Diana Taurasi added 16 points and seven assists for the Mercury, which lost for just the second time in six games under interim head coach Russ Pennell.
“The thing that bothers me is that it’s the little things right now that’s keeping this Phoenix Mercury team from being great,” Pennell said.
“(We’re) very talented, have a lot of positives, but it’s the little things that are killing us right now. We’re not boxing out, we’re turning the ball over at an alarming rate.”
No. 1 draft pick Brittney Griner had 12 points and five rebounds for Phoenix.
With the win, the Storm was left a half-game behind Phoenix for third in the Western Conference with eight games to play.
“Our team is doing many things now that a lot of people did not think we could do before the season started,” Agler said. “I would probably have to put myself in that category.”
The Storm had a double-digit lead throughout the final period after taking a 63-53 advantage going into the fourth until the final two minutes.
Camille Little added 17 points and five rebounds for the Storm.