Fever visit Mercury riding five-game skid (Jul 18, 2017)

BY AP • July 18, 2017

The Phoenix Mercury, without injured star center Brittney Griner and coming off back-to-back losses, hope to get back on track Wednesday afternoon against visiting Indiana.

The Fever (7-12) lost five consecutive games and are the second-lowest scoring team in the WNBA at 76.8 points per game. They have failed to reach 70 points three times during their five-game skid, including an 80-62 loss at the Los Angeles Sparks on Monday night.

Phoenix (11-8) lost Griner -- the leading scorer and shot-blocker in the league -- to a left knee bone bruise and a right ankle sprain during Friday night's home loss to league-leading Minnesota. The Lynx also beat the Mercury in St. Paul two days later.

Indiana won't mind not seeing Griner, who posted a total of 70 points and 19 rebounds in two games against the Fever this season, both victories for the Mercury.

"She's carried us in a lot of games this year," Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi said of Griner, whose injuries were expected to keep her out three to four weeks. "Now, the people who have been working hard behind the scenes can hopefully come in and help."

Taurasi, who will be an All-Star starter for the West, did not travel to Minnesota on the weekend in order to rest. She is eighth in the league in scoring at 17.9 points per game. The WNBA career scoring leader will have to do even more with Griner out of the lineup.

Indiana has four players averaging double-figure points, led by forward Candice Dupree at 13.9. She also averages a team-high 5.5 rebounds. Dupree is in her first season with Indiana after seven seasons with the Mercury, who sent her to the Fever in a three-way trade in the offseason.

"She's calm. She knows the game inside and out, so for her to be able to work her way in was very easy and made my job a whole lot easier," Indiana point guard Briann January said on WNBA.com. "I have one eye on her all the time when we're on offense. She does a lot on defense as well. Her leadership has just helped our team. We are very happy she's here."

The replacement for Griner on Sunday was 6-foot-6 post player Angel Robinson, signed late last month after she finished a commitment playing for Montenegro in the FIBA EuroBasket Championships. She last played in the WNBA with the Seattle Storm in 2014.

Robinson had eight points and six rebounds in 20 minutes on Sunday.

"We've got to try to scrape out some wins and have the mindset that every game is a playoff game," said Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello said.


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