Goran Dragic lifts Slovenia over Korea with 22 points, 4 assists and great hustle. Final score is 89:72.
To start with, Goran is averaging 19 points, 5 assists and shooting 70% from the field in the tournament
Disclaimer: I may have gotten a bit sarcastic in parts, but you'll guess it without the appropriate font anyway.
And Korea is in the lead! Well, it's only 2:0, but hey, it's something. And our guys are doing the impersonation of a sleeping beauty, losing 7:2, until Goran makes a good drive to the rim. Wake up boys. Slovenia takes the lead at 11:10 after a great run by Goran again, but our defense is colander-ish, Koreans are getting clean looks and are scoring well. And we're down 18:13 with 2 minutes left, playing like we're on vacation. Finally some life on D and the score is even but are you kidding me, playing like this. 21:19 after the first period, for Korea, and someone's going to get an earful.
Some good D to start the second but there's still no life on offense but at least our long range shots started falling so we're finally up a point.. Not for long, down again, but Gogi gets an offensive rebound to get us closer, but picks up his second personal foul, and one of the Koreans is hitting free throws off the backboard. Why aren't we up already?
Zoran Dragic outruns the entire Korean team for an and-one. The Dragon brothers are the only ones really tuned into the game. Ok, we'll let that airball slide. And we're up by 2 with 3 minutes left in the half. Gogi has 10 points, looking composed but come on, you don't need to play your all-NBA point guard against Korea the entire game. Zoran rolls through to the rim, he really is looking NBA-ready. It's 40:29 for Slovenia at the half. I think I might get a beer early this time. It's up to Zdovc to prod buttock in the locker room.
So, nice nap guys, rested your weary legs? Zoran has, a great drive to the rim and Goran misses an NBA three but makes up for it with a drive on the next two possessions, but come on, he could use some rest today. Our defense is still looking like a well-aired swiss cheese. Well I take it back, things are looking up, Lorbek gets 5 consecutive points and we're up by a whopping 9 points, Goran makes a great pass to Omic and it's an 11 point game, finally.
A time out and some good hustle plays and we're up by 15 after a great drive by, you guessed it, Goran Dragic. And the team picked up on Dragon brothers and their focus, we're finally playing like we are supposed to. After third, it's 70:56. Slovenia ouscored Korea 30:17 in the period.
Zdovc is still angry on our D, but we did get an open three...aaand one right back. And two missed freebies by our backup PG. Really, 0 for 2, and then a foul on a 3 point shot? Here comes Goran again when the score is 73:63 for Slovenia. Gogi makes a wide open three in transition, getting his eye in, amd then another one, he has 22 points already, running rings around the defense, kicking it out for wide open shots. Now if only those shots would fall more than they are. Slovenia is up by 17 points with 5 minutes left in the game. Zoran makes his first three to make it an 18-point game. Goran is resting now, let's hope he can stay out, but we're just chucking threes really, nobody's really trying to drive, and now a Korean player (one of four Kim's on the team) follows up a missed three with a one-handed dunk. And the final score is 89:72, and thank the heavens the game is over, it's obvious there's a real lack of motivation against the "exotic" opponents.
After a first half that was way too close for comfort, Slovenia finally regained their composure in the second and put things right. Now we need to shrug off the nervousness and prepare for Angola tomorrow. Another must-win game, especially as Australia Beat Lithuania earlier and should Slovenia win tomorrow, they are guaranteed the first place in the group (barring a big loss to Lithuania) and will not meet Team USA until the semi-finals.
Goran had 22 points, 4 assists and 2 rebounds, though his shot from deep was a bit off, but he showed great hustle, some nifty assists and court vision and ball-handling skills (all of which we already knew, but it can't hurt to showcase his mojo on the world stage).
A win is a win is a win.
Everything is within reach...
There was no other outcome for this season. When the Phoenix Mercury began winning games at a historical clip and the defending champions proved they were as good as ever this collision became the epicenter of the WNBA.
Now it comes down to one game.
In Game One the Mercury showed what they look like at as close to perfection as they can be for a full game. Great offense, balance, team defense, hustle, and a raucous home crowd on their feet all game. They humbled the Lynx in a way that has been unheard of for the past four years during the playoffs.
Then in Game Two the table was set for a Mercury win, a sweep, and a step closer to their third WNBA Championship.
All of that was interrupted by a 13-0 fourth quarter run that ended a steady overall performance. Until that fourth quarter run the Mercury were in control maintaining the lead for just over 30 consecutive minutes. In that fourth quarter Maya Moore was the MVP of the league with 13 points (32 overall) and the supporting cast was as good as they usually are scoring 13 points themselves while limiting the Mercury to 15 points as a team.
The ball stuck on offense and defense was not able to defend the three-point line or stop the Lynx from getting to the free-throw line.
Overall the game just fell flat for the Mercury over time, as it did for the Lynx for three quarters in Game one, which is what happens when a great team is on their game. The Mercury are a great team. The Lynx are a great team. The Mercury were the better of the two teams in the first round and the Lynx were the better of the two teams in the second round. This is precisely why there is a round three.
"Everyone is disappointed but we knew it's going to be a tough series going in," Head Coach Sandy Brondello after the loss. "These are the two best teams in the WNBA, they are the defending champions."
All of this. The historic season. The milestones. The records. All of that was for one reason and that was to have the opportunity to play this game at home, in front of a legitimate X-Factor, where they have the home court advantage. The Lynx will have to come and take this away from the Mercury in a hostile environment and the Mercury will have to dethrone the defending champions.
Everything done in the regular season is a precursor to the post-season. Sneak in with an average record and you have an uphill battle to climb. Dominate the standings and you become the ladder.
In the history of the Western Conference Finals for the WNBA there have been six total deciding game threes all of which were won by the team with home-court advantage. Never has a road team come out victorious in this setting. The Comets (1999), the Sparks (2001, 2003), Storm (2004), the Silver Stars (2008), and the Mercury most recently in 2009 when they cut down the nets.
"We have an opportunity to go back to Arizona and have the "X-Factor" there to support us," Brondello on Game Three. "And it's our home court so we need to go in there with confidence and shake off the things we didn't do well."
Whether on the road or at home the team was consistent winning games no matter the setting, but the home crowd inspires the team just that much more than a road venue.
The team averages nearly four more points per game at home, one rebound per game more, and shoots the ball nearly lights out (50.3% field-goal 37.6% three) from nearly everywhere.
Penny Taylor is a perfect example of that.
In the last two home games she has been the straw that stirs the Mercury flavored drink averaging 11.5 points 9.5 rebounds 7.0 assists 2.5 steals and infinite hustle on both ends of the floor. Her defense, effort, and ability to just about do everything well on the court. Her play glued the team together in their game one struggle versus the Sparks and sparked the team to a route of the Lynx in game one of this series. Her all-around play is crucial.
The Lynx did not dominate the Mercury or do anything revolutionary. Moore played like an MVP and they made plays at the end of the game. Like Taurasi said after the loss, "At the end of the game it comes down to making plays and getting stops."
For the Mercury they have to execute their gameplan and produce.
"We have to control the things we can control," Taurasi on Game Three.
Moore was a non-factor in Game One and the MVP of the league in Game Two. Taurasi, the teams best overall player, was efficient in Game One and inefficient in Game Two. Getting back to playing their style at home could be the deciding factor there.
For the series the Mercury have bested the Lynx in nearly every statistical category. They have outscored them (162-153), outrebounded them (77-63), dished out more assists (35-29), caused more havoc with blocks and steals (28-20), and got to the free-throw line more (38/43 -- 32/38) attacking the basket.
While the Mercury have dominated the team statistics the series is dead even in the most crucial category.
Everything the Mercury worked for is here. Having home court advantage by being the top team in the conference gives them the privilege of playing at home in this intense, pressure packed game. This series is eight quarters old with each team splitting them four a piece.
Now it comes down to going out there and controlling what they can control. Their play and effort.
Welcome back to the short-week Madhouse. I hope everyone had a safe and awesome Labor Day weekend. Lots of stuff to talk about this week: the NFL season is upon us, the FIBA World Cup is in full swing, some celeb iCloud accounts got hacked and Guardians of the Galaxy continues to dominate the movie going landscape, proving we are all, in fact, Groot.
So what's on your Awesome Mix, Vol.2?
Goran, Zoran, Bogdan. The next hit sitcom.
To catch you up in case you haven't been following like you should, here's a breakdown of all 24 teams participating in the 2014 FIBA World Cup.
CBSLA picked the top five protagonists in all of sports, and a former Phoenix Sun found himself on the list. In fact, he finished in front of Tim Tebow.
Speaking of Mr. Tebow, the second coming, he wasn't shy about sharing his thoughts on today's NBA.
NBA.com has released of the top 10 Suns plays from the 2013-14 season. Plenty of Green, Bledsoe, and Plumlee. Let the debating begin.
Paul Coro reminds you that making the playoffs in the Western Conference is not a given.
Let's remember fondly Charles Barkley telling us, "I am not a role model." Demarcus Cousins has a different perspective.
The CEO of Clotherie, an upscale store specializing in Italian hand-crafted suits and frequented by many Phoenix Suns players and announcers, died while swimming in Maui this past weekend.
The Suns have launched a media campaign to find "new fan models." The most creative submissions will be included in an album on the Suns Facebook page.
Don't think you fit the mold of what is being looked for in a new fan model? You can still be active with the Suns and social media by helping the Morrii pick their next tattoo.
Anyway, let's get to the professionals. Meet your 2014-15 Phoenix Suns Dancers!