Wings rally to beat Mercury 117-111 in triple overtime
PHOENIX (AP) — The buildup was for an individual matchup: Brittney Griner against Glory Johnson for the first time since their acrimonious divorce.
Those two turned out to be a subplot as the Phoenix Mercury and Dallas Wings traded big shots through three overtimes.
Odyssey Sims scored 10 of her 18 points in the third overtime and Johnson scored 15 against her ex-spouse’s team, helping the Wings beat the Mercury 117-111 Saturday night.
“We worked for that win,” said Johnson, who had 10 rebounds. “We played as a team and we weren’t going to leave without a win.”
Griner and Johnson garnered most of the attention heading into the game, but weren’t much of a factor until late, when Johnson scored on a putback over Griner to tie the game with 10 seconds left in regulation. The two also got tangled in the third quarter, when Griner was called for a foul and Johnson was hit with a technical foul for pulling her down.
The bigger story was the players around them.
DeWanna Bonner helped Phoenix build a 17-point lead, matching a season high with 38 points. Penny Taylor added 21 and Candice Dupree had 19, including two on a game-tying jumper with 6.1 seconds in the first overtime.
Skylar Diggins led the Wings back, scoring 19 of her 27 points after halftime. Plenette Pierson and Karima Christmas each scored 18 points, and Sims scored the tying basket in the second overtime before taking over in the third to help Dallas end a six-game losing at Phoenix.
“We should have won the game,” said Griner, who finished with 11 points and nine rebounds. “I’m not happy at all.”
It didn’t help that the Mercury ran out of players in a game that featured 86 combined free throws.
The Mercury had star Diana Taurasi foul out early in the first overtime, then Griner, Dupree and Noelle Quinn each went out in the third extra period.
Phoenix, which lost to Los Angeles the night before, was whistled for 42 fouls and Dallas made 41 of its 51 attempts from the line.
“It’s tough, but we should have put it away in regulation,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “That’s on us.”
The relationship between Griner and Johnson turned ugly after they were arrested on domestic violence charges for a fight in their Phoenix-area home in April 2015. They married three weeks later, but Griner filed for an annulment in June, a day after Johnson announced she was pregnant via in-vitro fertilization.
The WNBA suspended both players seven games for the domestic violence; Griner sat out at the start of the 2015 season, Johnson this year after missing last season while pregnant.
Johnson, who gave birth to twins in October, has averaged 9.3 points and 6.0 rebounds in four games since returning. Griner, the two-time defending WNBA defensive player of the year, has averaged 12.6 points and 6.3 rebounds for the Mercury, who have struggled to find a rhythm so far this season.
The two players seemed to sneak glances at each other during warm-ups, but didn’t play against each other until late in the second quarter due to substitution patterns.
“It just happened that way; I really didn’t think of it that way,” Fred Williams said of the substitution pattern.
Johnson came off the bench to a few boos late in the first quarter as Griner left and returned at 3:46 left in the second with Griner remaining in the game. Neither came into contact with each other nor were much of a factor in the first half.
Griner had three points and four rebounds, Johnson scored five points and the Mercury led 48-46 behind Bonner’s 24 points.
They had plenty of contact when Johnson returned in the third quarter, when Griner tried to block her shot and their arms locked at the elbows. Johnson came away holding her head and the officials reviewed the play, hitting her with a technical foul for pulling down Griner.
Griner went to the bench after picking up her fourth foul, but returned in the fourth quarter as Dallas erased Phoenix’s 17-point lead.
“I scored a layup and I got a technical; I’m not really sure what happened between that,” Johnson said. “I couldn’t tell you. I have no idea how that happened.”
Once the game was over, the one-time couple closed the night by high-fiving without looking at each other as the teams shook hands.