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Stewart, Bird push Storm past Mercury in OT, now up 2-0 in best-of-5 semifinals

SEATTLE (AP) — Sue Bird scored 19 points, including the go-ahead basket with 1:03 left in overtime and two clinching free throws with 2.1 seconds left, to help the Seattle Storm recover from blowing a 17-point fourth quarter lead and beat the Phoenix Mercury 91-87 in the second game of the WNBA semifinals Tuesday night.

Seattle now has a 2-0 lead in the best-of-5 series, having won Sunday’s first game by an identical score.

Breanna Stewart led Seattle with 27 points, getting 14 of those in the third quarter to help the Storm build a 19-point advantage.

But Phoenix, which was still down by 17 at 73-56 with six minutes left, went on a 23-6 run to end regulation, tying it on an incredible 3-pointer from the left corner by Diana Taurasi with 3.7 seconds left. It was her third trey in the final 1:36 of the fourth quarter. Taurasi finished with 28 points.

Stewart had a chance at the game-winner for Seattle in regulation, but her turnaround shot from the right of the hoop bounced off the rim.

The Mercury went up 85-81 with 3:21 left in overtime, and was still up 87-85 as the clock ticked inside the two-minute mark. Jewell Loyd hit one of her two free throws with 1:31 left, cutting it to 87-86. Bird then drove for a lay-in and an 88-87 lead at the 1:03 mark.

Phoenix had two shots before Alysha Clark secured the rebound for Seattle with 28 seconds left. Bird missed a lay-up try, but the Storm twice won jump balls in the final seconds and went to the line on both. Loyd hit one with 6.1 seconds left, then Bird drained her two at 2.1.

Brittney Griner had a double-double of 23 points and 10 rebounds before fouling out with 3:53 left in overtime.

DECISIVE FROM DOWNTOWN

During the regular season, the Storm and Mercury were two of the better-shooting teams from 3-point range. Until the fourth quarter on Tuesday, it had been all Settle from downtown, as the Storm was 7 of 16 from downtown, while Phoenix had missed all 14 of its attempts. But Phoenix then drained five in a row – three straight by Taurasi in the final 1:36 of regulation to help force overtime, then one by Bonner and one more by Taurasi in the first 1:39 to help provide an 85-81 lead. The Storm wound up at 7 of 19; the Mercury hit 5 of 19.

TIP-INS

DeWanna Bonner, who had double-doubled in all three playoff games so far for Phoenix, finished with 21 points and nine rebounds. She didn’t get into double digits until late in the third quarter. … Rookie Jordin Canada, who averaged 5.7 points during the regular season, nearly doubled that in just eight minutes during the first half, pumping in 10 to help spark a 17-8 run that took the Storm from 16-14 down to 33-24 up. Canada finished with 12 points in 15 minutes. … Bird is now above the .500 mark in all-time playoff games. Seattle is now 21-20 in postseason play since her 2002 rookie season.

UP NEXT

The series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3 on Friday night. The teams played there twice during the regular season, with the Storm winning both: 87-71 on May 23 and 102-91 on July 31.