So is the old Charde Houston back? The player who was a WNBA all-star in 2009?
Somebody asked her that question after the former Lynx scored a game-high 24 points for Phoenix in the Mercury's 105-83 loss to her old team.
"It kind of frustrates me when people say, 'the old Charde Houston,' " Houston said. "I haven't gone anywhere. I know what my capabilities are, and it's just a matter of having the opportunity to show my abilities. It's not the old, the new, it's Charde, period. It felt good to be with my new team. I'm happy that I'm here, and we're just going to improve."
Houston received a championship ring before the game -- as did Alexis Hornbuckle, another Lynx player now with the Mercury. She was a popular Lynx, and fans applauded her warmly.
Then she started making shots. Here's a breakdown of her 24-point game:
1st quarter/ Charde made four of eight shots, including three of four three-pointers for 11 points. The quarter ended with the score tied 20-all. Rest of team was four of 19 from the field.
2nd quarter/ Houston made only shot from field she took, a three-pointer. She also had a free throw for 15 points at halftime. The Lynx led 56-43.
3rd quarter/ Houston was 3x6, all three misses were from behind the arc. She had seven points this quarter for 22 total.
4th quarter/ Maybe Houston got tired. She played 29:46 after averaging 17 minutes the season before for the Lynx. She was only 1x7 from the field and missed two threes. She had two points to finish with 24, two shy of her career high. Her five three-pointers were a career high.
Mercury coach Corey Gaines said Houston's skills can help his team. "She can score, so it's a good fit for her," he said. "She's adapting. She's coming along. It's a new system for her, but she's learning."
"Any questions that I have, [Diana Taurasi is} always talking," Houston said. "This is my first year solely at the guard position, so I watch everything that Diana does. Every single thing she does, I watch. So I feel good, I feel confident, in knowing that I will be able to improve because I have one of the best guards in the country on my team."
Houston said, because of Taurasi's injury, she expected to start against the Lynx. "I was ready for it," she said. "I was not necessarily sure, but I was just ready.
"I feel great period. I just want to play well throughout the season. It is not about Target Center or Minnesota. It is about myself, our team and my adjustment. I just want to make sure that I prepare myself and just do well, not just this game throughout the entire season.
"I played all right [Sunday]. I never feel good. It doesn't matter how many points you have. I just want to shoot the ball well. Whatever shot I am giving, I want to maximize the opportunity."
Houston said the Lynx looked like she expected. "They just won. Everybody is coming back, so you know they are going to have a lot of energy," she said. "They play hard."
SIX ASSISTS FOR ROOKIE
Former Ohio State guard Samantha Prahalis, the No. 6 pick in last month's draft, made her WNBA debut and did some good things and some bad things.
She had 12 points and six assists, but also four turnovers.
"First game," Gaines said. "A couple bad turnovers. It's going to come. It's a learning experience. She wasn't scared. She came out and attacked and played, so I'm happy about that. She's probably going to learn the whole year. It's like any guard who comes into the league is going to learn, or any player, the whole year."
Prahalis said Diana Taurasi has helped her a lot. "When she is in, it's kind of like she just settles everyone down a little bit," Prahalis said. "She's kind of like a safety valve. She could take anyone or anything. She helps me set it up. 'Let's calm down. Let's run a play.' She's definitely someone who just settle everyone down, just gets control of the game."
After a week or two of feeling uncomfortable, Prahalis said, she is doing better. "The fast pace in the game [the Mercury plays], I really like it. I love it," she said. "That's why I think I need to do it more because I think we can get some more run-outs and I think we can get some more quick shots."
TAURASI MISSED BUT
Gaines said not having Taurasi [left hip flexor] in the lineup hurt his team, but there were other problems, too.
"Gave up too many offensive rebounds," he said. "[The Lynx] scored on put-backs and fast breaks. Last year they hurt us on half-court sets. They didn't really hurt us on those sets this year. So if you want to take a positive, maybe that's a positive. But still, they killed us on the boards. We're missing a couple of guns there."
The Lynx outrebounded the Mercury 40-28.
Taurasi averaged 3.2 rebounds per game last season. Also out for the season is 6-1 forward Penny Taylor with a torn ACL, although she would have missed the first half ot the season anyway training with Australia for the Olympics.