The emergence of Penny Taylor has given opponents another scorer to worry about while the offensively gifted Phoenix Mercury have soared to the top of the Western Conference.
Now the forward looks to continue her strong play as the visiting Mercury seek their fifth straight victory Sunday in their fourth meeting in less than a month with Skylar Diggins and the Tulsa Shock.
After averaging just 6.2 points over her first 11 contests, Taylor broke out with 19 points on 6-of-9 shooting in a 91-80 home win over the Shock (6-8) on June 20.
She then shot 8 for 11 and scored 20 points Friday, while Diana Taurasi had 23 and Candice Dupree added 18 to help the Mercury (10-3) pull off their largest comeback of the season by erasing a 13-point third-quarter deficit in an 81-76 win at Indiana.
"Unfortunately, Taurasi and Taylor gave us some fits, and with some help from Dupree," Indiana coach Lin Dunn said.
With Taurasi (18.6), Brittney Griner (16.4) and Dupree (15.2) averaging more than 15 points, Taylor’s scoring surge certainly doesn’t bode well for Phoenix’s upcoming opponents. The WNBA-best Mercury already lead the league with 85.0 points per game and a 49.3 field-goal percentage.
Griner, however, will be looking to get back on track after posting a season-low four points while missing five of six shots in the team’s sixth win in seven games Friday. She had totaled 56 points on 23-of-30 shooting in her previous two.
Phoenix, which has won six of seven versus Tulsa, looks to take three of four in this season’s series by avenging a 94-78 road loss June 6. Taurasi had 22 points in that contest, but Odyssey Sims (21 points), Diggins (20), Riquna Williams (17) and Glory Johnson (16) came up big in the Shock’s first win after an 0-5 start.
Tulsa had won six of eight before its four-game home winning streak came to an end in Saturday’s 92-89 loss to Los Angeles. Diggins had 29 points and Sims scored 17 with a season-high 10 assists for the Shock, who rallied from a 15-point hole in the second half.
"It came down to one or two shots that didn’t fall," coach Fred Williams said.
Diggins ranks second in the league at 21.1 points per game after averaging 8.5 as a rookie last year. She’s scored 31.3 per game in her last three overall and has averaged 17.3 in the three meetings with the Mercury.
Riquna Williams has totaled 44 points on 16-of-27 shooting in her two games versus Phoenix, but the WNBA’s reigning Sixth Woman of the Year has missed most of the past seven with a bruised left knee.
If they wish to earn a series split with the Mercury, the Shock need to tighten things up defensively after giving up 96.0 points per game over their last four.