SEATTLE (AP) — Sue Bird scored 14 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter, and the Seattle Storm advanced to the WNBA Finals for the third time in franchise history rallying for a 94-84 win over the Phoenix Mercury in Game 5 on Tuesday night.
Playing with a broken nose suffered in Game 4 and wearing a protective mask, Bird struggled with her shot for the first three quarters, but got hot in the closing minutes. She knocked down three straight jumpers midway through the fourth quarter, including a pair of 3-pointers. After a contentious jump ball that left Bird screaming at officials begging for a foul, Bird added another 3 and pushed Seattle’s lead to 84-76 with 2:51 remaining.
Bird handed her friend and Phoenix star Diana Taurasi her first career loss in a winner-take-all game. Taurasi had been 13-0 in her career in those situations, but couldn’t overcome the longest tenured Storm player from going off in the fourth quarter.
League MVP Breanna Stewart led Seattle with 28 points and carried the scoring load through the first three quarters until Bird took over late. Alysha Clark added 13 points and Sami Whitcomb provided a spark with 11 off the bench.
Seattle will face the Washington Mystics in the finals. Game 1 is Friday in Seattle.
Taurasi finished with 17 points, but the Mercury were unable to overcome losing the first two games of the series in Seattle. Brittney Griner led Phoenix with 21 points but had just three in the fourth quarter. Yvonne Turner matched her career high with 19 points, but was scoreless in the fourth quarter. Seattle outscored Phoenix 35-21 in the fourth quarter.