Mercury Down Shock, Win Third Straight
It was a career night for the Mercury.
Brittney Griner scored a career-high 28 points, Diana Taurasi tallied a career-high 12 assists (more on the milestone she achieved below), and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Tulsa Shock 91-80 on Friday night. In the win, first-year head coach Sandy Brondello improved to 9-3 and matched Russ Pennell (2013) for the best 12-game start to a head coaching tenure in franchise history.
Penny Taylor had 19 points, including 10 in the first quarter, for first-place Phoenix (9-3), which led by 15 in the second half.
In the victory, the Mercury won a game by double-digits for the seventh time in nine victories in 2014. Phoenix earned six double-digit wins in all of 2013.
Additionally, Phoenix's league-best scoring margin (+7.8 entering the night) improved to +8.1. Fifteen of the 17 championship teams in WNBA history owned the largest scoring differential in that respective regular season. The Mercury improved to 8-2 against the Western Conference this season (Phoenix went 9-13 in conference play a season ago).
"I wish we didnít have to keep battling back and we keep just extending our lead," Sandy Brondello said after the game. "But look, this is what this league is about. The parity is so even and teams can come back in a heartbeat. I do like that kind of execution and we got a little bit of poise about our self and a little bit more composure and our intensity goes to another level."
Diana Taurasi recorded her third consecutive double-double, tallying 14 points and a career-high 12 assists (she now ranks sixth all-time in assists in WNBA history). The double-double was Taurasi's fourth in her last five games, fourth overall in 2014 after recording a single-season career-high four in 32 games in 2013.
In typical Taurasi fashion, she deflected credit toward Brittney Griner's stellar game.
"Sheís a great rim protector," Taurasi said. "She lets us have the ability to put alittle more pressure on the guards, knowing that Brittney is back there pretty much holding it down. You know, this year she just kind of has figured it out and where she can be effective on both ends, and itís been amazing."
In addition to her career-high 28 points, Griner tied a career high with six blocks. Griner recorded four or more blocked shots for the sixth time this season and blocked more shots than the entire opposing team for the ninth time in 2014.
"It got me fired up," Griner said of protecting the paint. "I didnít want to go back on offense after the blocks."
Phoenix has now won a season-high three straight games and next faces the Fever in Indiana on Friday, June 27.
Penny Taylor looked like the Penny Taylor Mercury fans know and love. With 19 points tonight to go along with her five rebounds and three assists, Taylor provided a scoring spark for the Mercury especially in the first half. Her 19 points were a season high and were the most points scored in a single game since the 2011 season (2013 season high: 18 points).
It is also the third double-digit scoring performance this season for Taylor, who has appeared in all 12 games after playing in 10 games in 2012 and 2013 combined.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
On Wednesday against the Lynx, Brittney Griner set a career high in scoring (27) and tied her career high in rebounds (18).
Tonight, she set another career high in scoring with 28 points to go along with her six blocks.
STAT(S) OF THE NIGHT
11.1 - the percentage the Shock shot from the three-point line (2-of-18). Conversely, Phoenix shot 55.6 percent (5-of-9).