Taurasi, Mercury look to continue hot streak vs. Lynx

STATS Writer

Less the two weeks ago, the Minnesota Lynx routed Phoenix behind a solid performance from Maya Moore, sending the Mercury to a third consecutive defeat.

Diana Taurasi is a big reason Phoenix hasn’t lost since.

The league’s two highest-scoring teams go head to head as the Mercury seek a fourth straight victory Wednesday night when they host Minnesota at US Airways Center.

Moore scored 22 points and the Lynx (4-1) recorded an assist on 30 of their 36 field goals in a 99-79 home victory over Phoenix on June 6.

Taurasi scored 21 points in that contest, beginning a streak of four consecutive 20-point games that is her longest since a nine-game run in August 2011. She’s averaged 27.5 points during her current run after netting 29 in Sunday’s 108-103 overtime win at Tulsa.

The veteran guard also finished with nine rebounds and nine assists, falling just short of the WNBA’s first triple-double since 2005. DeWanna Bonner scored 23 points and Candice Dupree added 20 points and 10 rebounds.

“When the game is on the line, hopefully you can make plays,” said Taurasi, who leads the league with 23.0 points per game. “We had so many people making shots.”

Phoenix (3-3) has won each of its three games since falling to Minnesota despite No. 1 overall pick Brittney Griner playing limited minutes in the last two and sitting out an 82-67 victory over Indiana on June 8 due to a knee sprain.

Griner scored 16 points and added five blocks in 23 minutes Sunday.

“I wanted to utilize the minutes I had,” Griner told the team’s official website. “I had limited minutes per quarter, so I wanted to go in and do something. I didn’t want to go in and not be a factor.”

The Mercury’s 86.3 points per game rank second in the WNBA to Minnesota’s 87.8, and they may have their hands full again with Moore, who is averaging 19.8 points to rank among the league leaders.

She struggled in Minnesota’s 83-74 win over Tulsa on Friday, though, shooting 4 for 12 and scoring 10 points. Rebekkah Brunson and Lindsay Whalen helped pick up the slack, scoring 19 and 17 points.

“For sure, we do like when we can take some pressure off Maya,” coach Cheryl Reeve said. “It’s what we do as a team.”

Brunson may not get the same notoriety as players like Moore and Seimone Augustus, who scored 19 points in the first meeting with Phoenix, but Reeve said the opposition is very aware of her talent.

“I think she’s under the radar as far as media types, but for opposing coaches, she’s a big, big part of every scouting report,” Reeve said. “Everybody understands how good she is. I don’t think she really cares much; she just goes about her business.”

Brunson had only four points but added 10 rebounds in the first meeting with the Mercury, who got 18 points from Bonner and 16 points – including a dunk – from Griner.

Phoenix is averaging 95.7 points during its winning streak compared to 77.0 in its three losses.