WNBA

Mercury-Fever Preview

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Coming off a huge road win over one of the better teams in the Western Conference, the Indiana Fever appear to have a favorable home matchup in store against one of the West's worst clubs.

Taking Phoenix lightly, though, could prove costly with the Mercury playing their best basketball of the season.

The Fever try to extend their season-high home winning streak to five games Sunday when they face the Mercury, winners of three of four.

Sitting in second place in the East, playoff-bound Indiana (18-9) moved within 1 1/2 games of conference-leading Connecticut on Friday thanks to some help from Phoenix (7-20). While the Mercury beat the Sun 91-82, Tamika Catchings had 26 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Fever to an 82-78 victory at San Antonio.

"We're excited to a steal a win," said Katie Douglas, who scored 18 points. "San Antonio is a great team and they play great on their home court, so I feel like we came in and stole one. We just feel fortunate to get out of here with a win."

Indiana has been even better on its own court, going an East-best 10-3. The Fever have outscored opponents by an average of 16.0 points in taking four in a row at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Despite its home domination, Indiana could be in for a battle Sunday. The Mercury posted back-to-back wins over Seattle and San Antonio before falling 87-59 at New York on Wednesday, then bounced back to shock Connecticut.

DeWanna Bonner had 35 points and Diana Taurasi scored 16 for Phoenix, which outrebounded the Sun 45-21.

"It was a tough night in New York," said Bonner, who made 12 of 23 shots, including 6 of 11 from 3-point range. "Losing by (almost) 40 will kind of motivate any team. I had to do better.

"My teammates did a great job of screening and putting the ball in the perfect spot for me. Before the game, me and (coach) Corey (Gaines) talked a little bit about just shooting the ball and being aggressive."

Krystal Thomas also came up big for the Mercury with 16 rebounds - seven on the offensive glass. She ranks ninth in the league - just behind Bonner - with 7.1 boards per game.

"That is KT," Gaines told the team's official website. "She had 16 rebounds and they were go-get rebounds. We hyped her up before saying (WNBA leading rebounder) Tina (Charles) gets a lot of offensive rebounds, Tina does this and she was probably trying to shut us up."

Phoenix could have an edge on the glass again Sunday against a Fever team that's being outrebounded by 3.1 boards per game, among the worst marks in the league.

Indiana took the first matchup in this series 85-72 at Phoenix on Aug. 25 despite getting outrebounded 41-32. The Fever have won six of seven overall.



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