Taurasi’s back and ready to help Phoenix make postseason run

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              FILE - In this Aug. 26, 2018, file photo, Phoenix Mercury's Diana Taurasi brings the ball up against the Seattle Storm during the first half of a WNBA basketball playoff game in Seattle. Taurasi admits she’s been fortunate throughout her basketball career not to have been injured often. Until this season, she’s only had to really miss games one other time due to injuries and that was in 2012 when she sat out the first 16 games to recover from hip flexor and ankle injuries. This year’s been different. She missed the first part of the season recovering from back surgery. After she returned for one game in Connecticut, she tweaked her hamstring and didn’t come back until last week. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
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WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — Diana Taurasi admits she’s been fortunate throughout her basketball career not to have been injured often. She was hard-pressed to remember many times she had to miss games because of an injury.

It’s really only happened once before in her storied career when she sat out the first 16 contests of the 2012 season to recover from hip flexor and ankle injuries. This year, she missed the first part of the season recovering from back surgery. After she returned for one game in Connecticut, she hurt her hamstring and didn’t come back until last week.

“This was the first injury I couldn’t play through that was a little frustrating. Back surgery was one thing, but with the hamstring it’s been a little bit challenging. Looked at it as the next chapter. Hopefully this will set me up strong for the closing of the story,” Taurasi said Tuesday after beating New York 95-82.

Taurasi has five games left before the postseason to get back into playing shape. She’s been on a minutes restriction the first couple of games as she gets her wind back.

“I know it’s just a matter of time,” Taurasi said of being where she wants to be. “We’ll get into the playoffs and we’ve been in this position before. We’re an old team that knows how to win on the road in the playoffs.”

Taurasi returned against Chicago on Sunday after sitting out a one-game suspension for her role in a fight earlier this month. The only thing that has been off since she returned has been her shot. Taurasi has gone 2-for-20 from the field since her return. She missed all seven attempts against New York. She did have 10 assists.

“All I could do for last six months was shoot, so it’s kind of ironic that the only thing I can’t do right now is shoot. It’s almost pretty funny” Taurasi said. “I’m not going to worry about it or lose sleep over it. There’s so much in the game of basketball other than shooting.”

Before she returned, she spent 6-8 hours in the gym rehabbing and trying to get the hamstring better, but the 37-year-old guard knows that as she’s gotten older it takes time to recover.

“Life’s all about timing. If this had happened in January we wouldn’t even be talking about this,” she said. “That’s sports. As you get older you quantify that in different ways.”

Mercury assistant coach Penny Taylor knows Taurasi better than most. The two former teammates are married and have a son Leo. She noticed the injuries this year were tougher for Taurasi.

“She’s been hurt before, but just played through everything,” Taylor said. “This is the first time she stopped and rehabbed something. She’s had all these series of injuries and just played through them. Maybe that’s why she got to the point she did.”

Taylor said that Taurasi spent the last few months doing everything she could to get back. She was in the gym, the pool, the weight room and even tried acupuncture.

“Everything she could think of she tried. Everything she was allowed to do, she was doing,” Taylor said.

It helped when Taurasi would have bad days of rehab that Leo would be at home waiting for his mom.

“When you go home to your son it’s the best thing in the world,” she said. “It puts everything in perspective. All your troubles you can leave at the gym.”