After their inability to limit turnovers finally caught up to them, the Phoenix Mercury hope to put together much cleaner possessions following a week of preparation for the WNBA’s only winless team.
As Tulsa looks to avoid its fourth straight 0-4 start, the Mercury seek their best start since their title-winning season five years ago with a fifth consecutive victory over the visiting Shock on Friday night.
Despite committing a total of 33 turnovers, Phoenix managed to get past Seattle and Los Angeles by a combined 22 points in the first weekend of the season.
The Mercury, however, couldn’t overcome the sloppy play last Friday as San Antonio scored 18 points off their 15 miscues in a 78-74 home loss. Phoenix is among the league leaders with an average of 17.3 turnovers.
"We had some breakdowns, a little untypical some of them but that’s because we haven’t got the chemistry yet,” coach Sandy Brondello said. ”We’ll get better."
Following its three contests in seven days to open 2014, Brondello’s club had a chance to iron out some of the kinks with six days to prepare for Tulsa. The Mercury swept last season’s series, but three of the four games were decided by five points or less.
They’ve also gone 8-1 at home against the Shock since their 2009 championship season – the last time they started 3-1.
Phoenix forward Candice Dupree played a major role in the 2013 season series, scoring exactly 20 points in all four matchups while averaging 9.0 rebounds. She’s hoping to continue that trend after averaging 9.7 points and 5.3 boards in the first three games.
Diana Taurasi led the Mercury with 21 points and nine assists last Friday, leaving her with 44 points and 15 assists over the last two games. She averaged 25.0 points against Tulsa last season.
The Shock will try to keep the pressure on Phoenix after forcing 18 turnovers Wednesday, though they committed 20 of their own in an 82-79 loss at San Antonio. Skylar Diggins tied the game on a contested layup with 38.6 seconds remaining before the Stars hit a 3-pointer with 13.4 left.
”I thought it was a hard-fought game back and forth,” said coach Fred Williams, whose club has lost three games by a total of eight points. ”We kind of built a lead off and on, and the Stars came in and hit a couple of big 3s at the end.”
Diggins has been a bright spot, averaging 19.3 points and 7.0 assists while making 47.7 percent from the field. She averaged 8.5 points and shot 32.8 percent in a disappointing 2013 rookie season.
Glory Johnson, who scored 18 on Wednesday, had a career-high 32 points with 15 rebounds in a 108-103 overtime home loss to Phoenix on June 16. Riquna Williams totaled 51 points in her two 2013 meetings with the Mercury, missing the other two because of a sprained ankle.