The frustrated feeling should still be fresh for the WNBA-best Phoenix Mercury after the Minnesota Lynx snapped their franchise-record winning streak just over a week ago.
Now the Mercury have a chance to return the favor as they try to keep the Lynx from a club-record 12th straight victory Saturday night when the league’s top clubs meet in Phoenix.
The Mercury had won 16 in a row to pull within two of Los Angeles’ league-record 18-game run from 2001 before losing 75-67 in Minnesota on July 31.
Article continues below ...
While Maya Moore led the Lynx with 20 points and Seimone Augustus added 19, they held the WNBA’s top offensive club to 36.8 percent from the field and 3 of 17 from 3-point range. The Mercury (25-4) have put up 84.4 points per game while making 48.8 percent from the floor and 35.1 percent on 3-pointers this season.
Diana Taurasi wasn’t happy with Minnesota’s physical approach after making 5 of 21 shots, including 0 of 7 from 3-point range, while being held to 10 points.
"If we have to put our helmets on, that’s what we’re going to have to do from here on out," said the All-Star guard, who is 3 for 22 from beyond the arc in her last four games. "We’ll be ready to play football next time."
The Mercury own a 1 1/2-game lead on the Lynx in the Western Conference as they look to avenge their only loss in the past 20 games and extend their franchise-best home winning streak to 14.
Minnesota (24-6) has its sights set on topping the franchise-record winning streak of 11 games, set July 10-Sept. 9, 2012.
Moore, the club’s MVP candidate, finished with 17 points and Lindsay Whalen added 14 on Thursday in a 74-64 home victory over Chicago.
Coach Cheryl Reeve, however, was less than impressed.
"If we’re not better in Phoenix, (the playoff race) will become a non-story," Reeve said after her team allowed 40 second-half points. "Phoenix will drill us if we have that same defensive lackluster attention to detail."
Minnesota had won 14 straight in this series, including the playoffs, before the Mercury took the first two from the defending champions this season. Still, that Lynx team was short-handed without injured starters Augustus and Rebekkah Brunson.
Phoenix has responded with three straight wins following its recent loss at Minnesota, though it was pushed to overtime in a 78-73 victory at San Antonio on Thursday.
"Really, we haven’t had a lot of close games and it’s actually good preparation leading to the playoffs," coach Sandy Brondello said. "Because that’s what playoff basketball is like – it’s a grind, it’s really physical."
Candice Dupree led the Mercury with 20 points and a season-high 18 rebounds. Brittney Griner had five blocks, setting the WNBA single-season record with 117.
The All-Star center has averaged 19.7 points, 10.0 rebounds and 3.3 blocks in the season series with Minnesota.