WNBA

Mercury-Mystics Preview

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With rookie Brittney Griner beginning to hit her stride, the Phoenix Mercury are playing as well as any team in the WNBA on the offensive end.

That doesn't bode well for a Washington Mystics club that struggled defensively on a disappointing road trip.

The Mercury go for their sixth win in seven games Thursday night when they visit the Mystics, losers of three straight.

After averaging 12.0 points in a three-game stretch, Griner has scored 47 points and blocked nine shots in her last two for Phoenix (5-4). The center, averaging 16.6 points, tops the league with a 60.9 field-goal percentage and 3.1 blocks per game.

With league scoring leader Diana Taurasi limited to fewer than 20 points for the first time in seven games Tuesday, Griner stepped up with a career high 26 on 11-of-19 shooting to go with seven rebounds and five blocks in an 83-77 victory at San Antonio.

"Defensively, she really patched up a lot of our mistakes," said Taurasi, who finished with 18 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. "Offensively, when she gets in position like that, she has such a great touch and feel for the basket. She played really well, that's probably the best game as a pro she's played.''

Griner looks to keep rolling as the Mercury take on the struggling Mystics (4-4) for the second time in less than a week. She had 21 points and four blocks in a 90-82 home win over Washington on Friday.

Taurasi scored a game-high 31 for Phoenix, capping a six-game stretch in which the five-time All-Star averaged 28.2 points.

Behind one of the top tandems in the league, the Mercury have averaged 88.2 points while going 5-1 in their last six games after scoring 77.0 a contest during an 0-3 start.

They'll try to continue that production against the Mystics, who allowed opponents to score 88.3 per game while dropping all three contests on their road swing.

Washington's Ivory Latta, averaging a team-best 16.9 points, looks to get back on track after being held to a season-low five points in a 79-69 loss to Los Angeles in the trip finale Sunday.

"Every time she ran a pick and roll, they trapped her,'' coach Mike Thibault said. "It's fine if she's making shots and she gets assists, but that didn't happen. And I think she got into a situation where she started walking it up a little. That doesn't play into our strength right now."

Latta played at a better pace in Friday's defeat to Phoenix, finishing with 22 points and five assists. Reserve Matee Ajavon added 18 points and forward Monique Currie scored 17.

The Mystics may have a good chance to put up points against a Phoenix team that's giving up a league-worst 85.1 per game, though that may not matter if it can't slow down Griner and the Mercury inside.

Phoenix outscored Washington 44-22 in the paint and hit a season-best 51.6 percent from the field in the first meeting.

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