Mercury-Storm Preview

The Associated Press

The Seattle Storm's worst season in 13 years is nearly over, but preserving their share of some league history may give them a bit of extra motivation in an otherwise meaningless finale.

Phoenix tries to set a WNBA single-season record with its 29th victory in Sunday's visit with the Storm, one of the franchises whose mark the Mercury are looking to expunge.

Seattle (12-21) won its first three games in August to keep alive its slim playoff hopes, but was eliminated before tip-off of Friday's 77-65 loss to Los Angeles.

Starters Sue Bird, Camille Little and Tanisha Wright played a total of 14 minutes and didn't play in the second half. The Storm will miss the playoffs for the first time since 2003, and their record will be the franchise's worst since 2001 - their second season in the league.

''The mood was flat,'' said reserve guard Jenna O'Hea, who had a career-high 16 points. ''We had a lot of momentum going into this game - we won our last three games - so we were feeling pretty good about ourselves. We knew some things had to go our way. (Coach) Brian (Agler) came in and gave us a talk. We still want to keep getting better. We still want to finish the season off well for our fans, and for each other.''

It seems likely Bird, Little and Wright will play bigger minutes on Fan Appreciation Night as Seattle tries to finish 9-8 on its home court, but putting on a good showing at KeyArena likely won't be its only motivation.

The Mercury (28-5) beat Los Angeles 76-69 on Saturday night to match the 2000 and 2001 Sparks and 2010 Storm at a WNBA single-season record 28 wins.

Star Brittney Griner led the way with 19 points as Phoenix bounced back from a 96-82 loss at Atlanta on Wednesday in which it rested some starters.

It sounds like coach Sandy Brondello has no intention of letting Griner, Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree sit with the record on the line Sunday.

''We're going to go into Seattle and (try to) win that game,'' Brondello said. ''We're going to go for the record. Now that we've gotten this far, might as well.''

The Mercury will have four days off after Sunday's finale before opening the playoffs on Friday. They'll host Los Angeles if San Antonio beats Chicago on Sunday or the Stars if that contest goes the other way.

Phoenix has won all four previous meetings this season by an average of 17.5 points. Griner has averaged 17.0 points while Taurasi led the way with 22 on July 22 in an 89-71 victory in Seattle.

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