Storm hang on to hand Mercury second straight loss

PHOENIX -- Sue Bird had 18 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals as the Seattle Storm held off the Phoenix Mercury 83-77 on Tuesday night.

Camille Little added 15 points and five rebounds for Seattle (9-7), winner of two straight after a three-game skid. The Storm beat the Mercury for the ninth straight time.

"For us, this is just a really good road win against a very good team," Bird said. "We're kind of hovering around .500, so for us it's about making a push in the second half of the season to move up in the standings.

Diana Taurasi scored 26 points and added four assists for Phoenix (10-6), which has lost two straight after winning six in a row. Candice Dupree and DeWanna Bonner each had 10 points for the Mercury.

"At stretches I think we played really well," Taurasi said. "There was a lull in that third quarter where they raised intensity a little bit and we didn't match it. Then in the fourth quarter again you saw that when we play with that intensity we looked pretty good again. We just have to find a balance throughout a 40-minute game."

Phoenix went on a 17-6 run to get within a point with 1 minute remaining, but Little took the ball away from Taurasi and made a breakaway layup with 24 seconds left to help secure the win.

"I just tried to jump in her path and distort her movement and make her go in a different direction," Little said. "I happened to get my hand on the ball and it didn't go out of bounds, so I just tried to keep patting it and keep going the other way and I got a tough layup and made a tough finish."

Taurasi missed the second of two free throws, leaving the Mercury down 79-77 with 20 seconds remaining. Bird slipped on the subsequent possession and was forced into a jump ball. Bonner won the tip but Tanisha Wright got possession for Seattle and made two free throws after being fouled by Temeka Johnson with 14 seconds left.

Belinda Snell hit two 3-pointers during a 14-0 run in the third quarter that gave Seattle a 63-52 advantage with 1:21 left.

Taurasi scored 13 points and had three steals in the first half as the Mercury took a 43-40 lead at the break. Bird had 10 points, five assists and three steals in the first half to help keep Seattle close after the Storm trailed by as much as 11.

Phoenix missed nine of its first 13 shots in the third quarter and made four key turnovers that turned into seven Storm points.

"We didn't come to play," Mercury coach Corey Gaines said. "I talked to the team, they listened. We just didn't come to play. Just didn't play well."

Swin Cash, named the most valuable player of Saturday's All-Star game, was held to six points on 3-for-13 shooting but grabbed eight rebounds.