Mercury look to extend winning streak vs. Sky

Phoenix Mercury veteran guard Diana Taurasi became the first WNBA player to pass 8,000 career points in a win over the host New York Liberty on Tuesday, but she and her team are more focused on a different impressive number.

That’s three wins without a loss on a recent road swing for Phoenix (5-3) after losing three consecutive games. The Mercury return home Friday to play the Chicago Sky, who are 3-3 after erasing a 15-point deficit against visiting Las Vegas in a 95-90 win on Sunday.

“Somebody will come along and break it eventually,” Taurasi said of her career scoring mark after achieving 21 points in Phoenix’s 80-74 win over the Liberty, giving her 8,018 points.

Brittney Griner dominated the post with 26 points, but what stood out the most was the Mercury holding the Liberty without a point in the last 3:23 to pull away in front of a large school-day crowd at Madison Square Garden.

“People always talk defense and I have a different philosophy on defense. I’d rather be a timely defensive team than an average defensive team,” Taurasi said. “You have to get timely stops (and) try to make a play on both ends.”

Chicago enters the game with injury concerns after center Stefanie Dolson (strained tendon) and guard Allie Quigley (hip) missed the Sky’s win over Las Vegas on Sunday night. They are both questionable for the game against the Mercury.

Despite the absence of Dolson and Quigley against the Aces, Chicago managed the win behind rookie guard Diamond DeShields’ season-high 25 points and guard Courtney Vandersloot’s 15 points and 11 rebounds. The Sky snapped a three-game losing streak with the win.

Jamierra Faulkner, a guard, finished with a season-best 17 points, including a career-high-tying three 3-pointers, all in the pivotal fourth quarter.

“We really dug down and played together,” said Sky coach Amber Stocks, whose team was coming off a 38-point loss to Connecticut. “The way this team played together, they were passionate for each other.

“I would say what really manifested itself today, what you saw on the court, was a byproduct of what the players have been doing in practice. … It’s not the moment, it’s the preparation you put in before the moment that allows you to seize the opportunity of the moment.”

DeShields was injured during the game when she was inadvertently hit in the mouth by teammate Gabby Williams. She shook it off to lead the Sky to the win and is expected to play against the Mercury.