Mercury, Liberty both looking to end skids

The best way to describe recent events for the Phoenix Mercury and New York Liberty would be to characterize them as a lost weekend.

Phoenix and New York endured frustrating results over the weekend, but only one will exit their matchup at the Westchester County Civic Center in White Plains, N.Y., Tuesday night feeling happy about a win.

Phoenix (10-5) enters on a two-game losing streak that follows an eight-game winning streak. During their winning streak, the Mercury beat the Liberty 80-74 at Madison Square Garden three weeks ago behind 26 points from Brittney Griner and 21 from Diana Taurasi.

The streak ended Friday when the Mercury trailed by 21 in the second quarter and took an 83-72 home loss to the Minnesota Lynx. Phoenix then followed up that loss with a 97-88 setback to the Chicago Sky Sunday.

Phoenix dealt with several issues Sunday, but the most significant was Griner’s ejection for a flagrant-2 foul on Stefanie Dotson with 2:50 left in the third quarter. It occurred when Chicago was pulling ahead, and the Mercury did not get closer than four points the rest of the way.

Sunday’s game was the first in a stretch in which Phoenix will play eight of nine games on the road. Overall Phoenix is 6-2 on the road but is hoping for better after allowing more than 90 points for the second time this season.

“We’ve got to just make sure we’re ready to go on the road, buckle down and make sure we go and play well,” Taurasi said leading up to the game in Minnesota.

Buckling down and playing well on the road were things the Liberty were hoping to achieve this weekend.

Instead, New York (4-8) was handed an 88-78 loss to the Las Vegas Aces on Friday. The follow-up attempt went even worse as the Liberty shot 38.3 percent, trailed by 31 at one point and were dealt an 80-54 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks on Sunday.

You name it, it went wrong for the Liberty in their fourth loss in five games, with each of those defeats being by double-digit margins. They shot 5 of 18 from 3-point range, committed 15 turnovers and allowed Los Angeles to shoot 50.8 percent from the field.

Reserve Amanda Zahui B led the Liberty with career-high 21 points while Tina Charles was held to 10 points on 5-of-15 shooting. Charles is averaging 20.0 points this season but she is shooting 34 percent (16 of 47) in New York’s last three losses.

The Liberty also received little from second-leading scorer Kia Nurse. Nurse was held to one point and attempted one shot in 13 minutes against the Sparks.

New York’s Shavonte Zellous sat out Friday due to illness and did not score in 18 minutes on Sunday. New York is 4-1 when Zellous reaches double figures.

Before heading West, the Liberty posted a 79-72 home win over Atlanta last Tuesday. After the lost weekend, the New York is 2-6 in its last eight games, since Nurse scored 34 points in an overtime win at Indiana on June 2.

“Any win for us right now, with the state of what our record is, is an important win for us,” Charles said after the Atlanta game.