Minus Griner, Mercury open road trip at Dream (Jul 24, 2017)

BY AP • July 24, 2017

The Phoenix Mercury did not enjoy the final week leading up to the WNBA All-Star break. The Mercury lost their last three games and saw star center Brittney Griner go down with an injury that is expected to keep her out for a month.

Phoenix will try to hold onto their playoff position without Griner, the league's leading scorer, as the Mercury embark on a five-game road trip beginning Tuesday in Atlanta.

"She's been playing so good," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello told reporters after Griner was injured July 14 against Minnesota. "She's the reason why we are we're at."

With Griner sidelined with a bone bruise and ankle injury, star guard Diana Taurasi will be looked upon to carry the load for the Mercury. Taurasi poured in 34 points against the Indiana Fever last week, but it wasn't enough in an 84-77 loss.

"It was a winnable game. These are the ones in the long run that really hurt," Taurasi told azcentral.com after the loss to

The defeat followed back-to-back blowout losses to the first-place Minnesota Lynx and left the Mercury in fifth place in the WNBA standings, heading into the All-Star break.

Taurasi is sixth in the league in scoring, averaging 18.8 points per game. She scored 12 points on four 3-pointers in the All-Star game over the weekend.

The Dream also struggled in their final games before the break, losing three of four, and are clinging to eighth place in the league standings.

Atlanta forward Tiffany Hayes and point guard Layshia Clarendon each participated in the All-Star game. Hayes, who is ninth in the league in scoring with an average of 17.3 points per game, had 12 points in the All-Star game. Clarendon finished with 14 points and 10 assists for the East squad.

Griner scored a game-high 28 points in the Mercury's 89-84 win over Atlanta in Phoenix on July 12. The Dream took a 67-61 lead into the fourth quarter, but the Mercury opened the final stanza with a 17-6 run and held on to knock off Atlanta. It was Phoenix's eighth win in the last 10 meetings with the Dream.

Atlanta is 6-3 at home this season.

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