SEATTLE (AP) - Lauren Jackson wasn't available postgame to talk about winning her third WNBA MVP award or the Seattle Storm's win in the opener of the Western Conference finals.
Her performance against Phoenix in Game 1 on Thursday night speaks for itself.
Jackson had 23 points and a team playoff-record 17 rebounds to lead Seattle to an 82-74 victory over the Mercury.
Jackson, who was named MVP prior to the game, fell one rebound shy of her season high and had her double-double in the books with 3:15 left in the first half.
``That's Lauren. That's why she's the MVP - she can get it done in a variety of ways,' said Sue Bird, who had 10 assists. ``And the way she's getting rebounds ... that's key against this team. Defensively, it doesn't allow them to score or allow them second shots. And offensively, it doesn't allow them to run. So Lauren was huge for us on the boards.'
Svetlana Abrosimova added 16 points for the Storm, and Le'Coe Willingham had 10 in Seattle's 19th straight home win.
Penny Taylor scored 16 points and Candice Dupree added 15 for the defending champion Mercury. Diana Taurasi, who averaged 22.6 points during the regular season, scored nine on 2-of-15 shooting.
Seattle kept the Mercury 25 points below their postseason scoring average. Phoenix averaged 93.8 points during the regular season.
Game 2 of the series is Sunday at Phoenix.
``We battled through some tough moments, but we didn't get things done to win the game,' Taurasi said. ``I couldn't make a shot. I never blame the defense on missing shots. I had some really good looks, which I usually knock down. But tonight, they didn't go down. Hopefully on Sunday, I can get it together a little bit.'
The Storm jumped to a 22-7 lead in the first quarter, helped in part by the cold-shooting Mercury, who hit only one of their first 11 shots and went more than four minutes between their first and second baskets.
The Mercury pulled to 23-20 early in the second quarter with a 13-1 run capped by back-to-back 3-pointers from Temeka Johnson and Taurasi, but would get no closer.
Taurasi picked up her third foul with 7:05 left in the half, but sat out 2 1/2 minutes before returning and playing the rest of the way until the break.
``The last time I saw this from Diana was in 2007 - I think it was a game in Detroit,' said Phoenix coach Corey Gaines. ``Next game, she came out and had 30-something. I'm not worried about it. It happens.'
Seattle took a 47-33 lead into halftime, by which time Jackson had 17 points and 12 boards.
``She didn't score for the first two or three minutes, but from the middle of the first quarter on into the second, she was really doing some damage inside,' said the Storm's Brian Agler, named WNBA coach of the year before the game. ``In the first half, she really went after the basketball, gave herself some second opportunities and gave our team some extra possessions, which is very important against Phoenix.'
The Mercury trailed 59-55 late in the third quarter, but the Storm stretched the lead back to 10 early in the fourth and Phoenix trailed by at least seven points the rest of the way.
``It was a tough shooting night for us,' said Gaines, whose team shot 38 percent (27-of-71) from the field. ``We couldn't score. They're a great defensive team. It was one of those nights.'
The Associated Press News Service
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