Wednesday, September 12, 2007
Time for Mercury, Shock to move on from incident
By Mechelle Voepel Special to ESPN.com
PHOENIX -- In case you're wondering, Diana Taurasi is still ticked off. No, not furious like she was Tuesday night after Phoenix lost 88-83 to Detroit in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals.
Some say Detroit's Plenette Pierson, rear, took a swing at Phoenix's Penny Taylor in the final minute of Tuesday's Game 3.
Then, her anger was fueled mostly by the incident near the end of the game, where Detroit's Plenette Pierson
A. Took a swing at Phoenix's Penny Taylor.
B. Got "tangled up" with Taylor.
C. Perhaps was a bit overzealous in her dealings with Taylor.
D. Did absolutely nothing. (Only official members of the "Plenette Pierson Rules!" fan club are allowed to pick D.)
Of course, Taurasi's take was A. Detroit coach Bill Laimbeer's was B. Fans will be spread out in picking A, B or C.
The WNBA reviewed the incident and talked to the parties involved. But everyone said Wednesday it would not be a distraction going into Game 4 on Thursday night (ESPN2/ESPN360, 8:30 ET).
Phoenix coach Paul Westhead said he really didn't talk to his team about it. Laimbeer largely brushed it aside.
"It happens -- they try to make a big deal about it, and I don't understand it," he said. "It's not an issue. We come and play basketball. This is what we do. We happen to play a physical style of basketball."
Taylor was certainly not holding any grudge, but she was disappointed that it happened.
"My main concern is that it's an ugly thing for the game and our league," Taylor said. "It's not attractive to see women throwing their arms at each other's faces -- not because we're women, but because we're sports people and that's not something anyone wants to see. "I'm glad [the league] is having a look at it, for that reason only. But it doesn't affect me."
Taylor said she did appreciate how passionately Taurasi came to her defense.
"She understands that's how people get hurt, and she is protective of her teammates," Taylor said. "I think she said the right thing. That's what I love about her -- she's a teammate, and she'll stick with you until the end."
On the other side, Pierson insisted Wednesday that she did not throw a punch nor intentionally try to harm Taylor.
"You know, [Taurasi] is a competitor, and she wants to blow things up," Pierson said. "I can't feed into that. As a team, we've discussed it. It's over and done with. Today's a new day. We're just going to come in here and do our job, and that's practice and go play a game [Thursday].
"[The league] has talked to me, and whatever happens, happens. It's a basketball game -- it's been physical all series. I don't think anything that happened this game was out of the ordinary and had not happened the first two games."
However, Pierson did actually seem as close as she will come to being contrite about it, admitting maybe she could have avoided it.
And while Taurasi was still steamed about the incident, she acknowledged she was also not happy with the way Phoenix let too many chances get away. She gave a lot of praise to the Shock for how it competed in such a crucial game on the road.
"We played hard and had opportunities -- and didn't take advantage of them," Taurasi said. "And that hurts -- especially in a series against a really good team. And they showed last night why they are the defending champions. To come back after a loss like [Saturday's] and play the way they did last night was [impressive].
"We could sometimes learn something from other teams. And hopefully, we can learn something from them last night."
Mechelle Voepel of The Kansas City Star is a regular contributor to ESPN.com. She can be reached at email@example.com.