Kahleah Copper scored 21 points, Allie Quigley added 18 and the hot-shooting Chicago Sky opened the WNBA Finals with a 91-77 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Sunday.
The Sky withstood Phoenix’s fast start and took control with a 21-2 run spanning halftime to go up 17. Courtney Vandersloot had 12 points and 11 assists, helping Chicago shoot 53 per cent and grab home-court advantage from the Mercury in the best-of-five series.
Game 2 is Wednesday in Phoenix.
The Mercury played without guards Kia Nurse (torn ACL) and Sophie Cunningham (left calf strain), and the lack of depth seemed to hurt them against one of the WNBA’s best offensive teams.
Brittney Griner had 20 points and Diana Taurasi had 17 for the Mercury, who pulled within eight late before running out of steam and time.
The 2021 WNBA Finals is the first for both franchises since the Mercury swept the Sky in 2014.
It’s also a showdown between two of the sport’s all-time greats still at the top of their games.
A three-time WNBA champion and the league’s all-time leading scorer, the 39-year-old Taurasi took over down the stretch of Game 5 against Las Vegas, scoring 14 of her 24 points in the fourth quarter. She was voted the greatest player in the WNBA’s 25-year history by the fans in ceremony before Game 1 of the finals.
Parker, a two-time league MVP, returned home to Chicago this season after playing her first 13 seasons in Los Angeles and has been a key reason the Sky reached the finals, finishing with 17 points, nine rebounds and seven assists in the clinching game against Connecticut in the semi-finals. The 35-year-old was honoured as one of the WNBA’s greatest players during a ceremony after the first quarter of Game 1.
Taurasi kick-started Phoenix’s hot start to the final with two early threes, helping the Mercury build an early nine-point lead.
Parker led the Sky back, scoring 11 first-half points while keying a late second-quarter 17-0 run that put Chicago up 46-35 at halftime.
Chicago stretched the lead to 17 in the third quarter before Phoenix went on a 10-2 run to pull within 52-45.
That’s as close as the Mercury would get.
The Sky continued to drop in shots, pushing the lead to 86-66 midway through the fourth quarter before withstanding a late run by Phoenix’s reserves.