Taurasi’s 28 Help Mercury Keep Dream Winless

Phoenix 97, Atlanta 79

ATLANTA, July 1 (AP) -- Phoenix coach Corey Gaines knew the Atlanta Dream couldn't keep up with her fast-breaking Mercury.

"They don't run that way every day like we do,'' he said. "We practice that way. I knew they would drop off and hit a brick wall sooner or later, because we run on every possession.''

Diana Taurasi scored 28 points and the Mercury used a strong second quarter to beat the winless Dream 97-79 on Tuesday night.

The Mercury (8-7) have won four straight game to finish up a five-game road trip after losing to New York 105-72 on June 22. The defending WNBA champions lost four consecutive games to open the season.

Tangela Smith scored 17 points for the Mercury. Kelly Mazzante and Le'coe Willingham had 14 points apiece, and Kelly Miller had eight assists.

"It's all about getting contributions from everyone,'' Taurasi said. "It makes playing fun this way. We're on a winning streak, so I think we are getting there.''

Betty Lennox scored 18 points and Jennifer Lacy added 16 for the expansion Dream (0-16), who extended their WNBA-record losing streak and are still seeking the first victory in franchise history. Tamera Young scored 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting, and Kasha Terry had 11.

Dream coach Marynell Meadors said Phoenix's zone defense gave the Dream problems after the score was tied 25-all in the first quarter.

"They have all the pieces of the puzzle,'' Meadors said. "They capitalize on all your mistakes. Their zone bothered us a little bit.''

A layup by Miller put the Mercury ahead 60-34 in the third quarter. Miller's score came off a no-look pass from Taurasi, who finished with six assists.

Ivory Latta, who finished with 13 points, hit a 3-pointer to close the gap to 71-59 for the Dream with 1:56 left in the third quarter. But Phoenix pulled away on a 24-7 run in the fourth, pushing its lead to 29 points on Yuko Oga's layup.

"We know the game is long and it's four quarters,'' Taurasi said. "Our pace just didn't go away during that time, and (we) knew that one of the teams were going to break.''

The Dream tried to play the running game with Phoenix, but failed. The Mercury's up-tempo offense began to wear Atlanta down, going on a 20-3 run in the second quarter - a spurt that was capped when Taurasi sliced down the lane, passing the ball the out to an open Mazzante for a 3-pointer.

Phoenix held the Dream to nine points in second quarter, outscoring them in fastbreak points (16-1) and points in the paint (28-10) in the first half. Phoenix also scored 18 points off Atlanta's 13 turnovers.

Lennox got out to a quick start, scoring 11 points in the first quarter. But the Mercury double teamed Lennox the rest of game, holding her to seven points on 2-of-5 shooting over the next three quarters.

"They wanted her to give it up,'' Meadors said. "What Betty has to do is to put the ball on the floor and penetrate then kick or shoot the ball.''

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