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Bonner scores 20 as Mercury win No. 1 seed in West

Sep 7, 2009 - 5:01 AM PHOENIX(AP) -- With a little help from Minnesota, the Phoenix Mercury are now headed into the postseason with home-court advantage for at least the first two rounds.

DeWanna Bonner had 20 points and seven rebounds to help the Phoenix Mercury clinch the Western Conference's regular-season title with a 100-82 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Saturday night, a week left in the season.

"We need to keep our winning streak going to keep that No. 1 spot, be important later on down the line," said Bonner, the No. 5 overall pick in this year's draft. "I just came in, and my teammates, I just fed off them and their energy. They came out with a great start and made me more comfortable and I looked for my shot more."

Temeka Johnson had 16 points and five assists and Penny Taylor also scored 16 points for the Mercury (22-10), winners of four of their last five. Phoenix clinched the No. 1 spot in the West with its win coupled with Seattle's loss to Minnesota earlier in the night.

After twice rallying, Phoenix pulled away for good late in the third quarter, Bonner starting a 16-4 run with a 3-pointer.

"They were running all day on us," Atlanta guard Iziane Castro Marques said. "So that was a huge key for them. They were running and they knew we were in a back-to-back so they came out with their offensive mindset. We didn't stop them. Every time we got back in the game they have 5-10 points on running fastbreaks. That was a big key for them."

Phoenix scored 22 points off the break and had 19 points off 14 Dream turnovers.

Diana Taurasi added 13 points, seven assists and six rebounds for the Mercury. With a 3-pointer in the second quarter, she became the fastest player in league history to reach 4,000 career points, doing so in 197 games. Seattle's Lauren Jackson had the previous mark at 209 games.

"To be Western Conference champions in a tough, tough conference, it means a lot," said Taurasi, the league's leading scorer at 20.6 points a game. "It means we played together, we stuck in there, through hard times, (now) we're playing really well. So it says a lot about this team."

Erika DeSouza had 23 points and Michelle Snow added 17 points and seven rebounds for Atlanta (17-15). The second-year Dream missed a chance to secure a playoff berth one year after finishing with a league-record 30 losses, but remained one game ahead of third-place Detroit with two games to play.

Atlanta, which had won consecutive games, lost three of five on its road trip, splitting its last two on consecutive nights that took its toll, said coach Marynell Meadors.

"This is the end of a 13-day trip and five games," Meadors said. "I think that's all that was involved in the whole thing (tonight). We fought hard and I thought our energy was good. But you just can't play these back-to-back games and have to travel the same day. It's just totally impossible."

Phoenix used a 16-2 run midway through the first quarter to take a 22-10 lead with 2:07 left and had a 43-35 advantage at halftime.

However, Atlanta went on a 15-2 run capped by Iziane Castro Marques' 3-pointer with 5:11 left in the third to pull to 52-50. Bonner hit a 3-pointer to start a 16-4 spurt for Phoenix and Atlanta never recovered.

Atlanta played its sixth straight game without second-leading scorer Chamique Holdsclaw, who had arthroscopic surgery on her right knee.

The Mercury were also the West's top seed in 2007, when they won the championship.