Mercury guard averaging 29.3 points recently

Taurasi on Pace to Break Her Own Scoring Records

By Jerry Brown,
June 26, 2008

Two years ago around this time, the WNBA was busy promoting the most explosive individual offensive effort the league had ever seen.

In a performance worthy of an action-packed summer blockbuster, Mercury guard Diana Taurasi was waging an all-out assault on the league’s record book on a nightly basis. By the time the final buzzer sounded, an entire section had to be ripped out and replaced.

Taurasi ended up smashing 11 records that season, including points in a game (47), points in a quarter (22), points per game (25.3), points in a season (860), most consecutive games with 20 or more points (12, extended to 13 the next season) and 3-pointers made in a season (121).

Now she’s back for Round 2.

Unlike Hollywood, where sequels regularly fall far short of the originals, Taurasi’s play has been well worth the price of admission.

After scoring 30 or more points three times in the past four games and four times in the past six, the fifth-year pro is on pace to eclipse both her marks for points per game (25.4) and points in a season (864).

“She’s lighting it up right now,” center Tangela Smith said.

To put Taurasi’s scoring output in context, consider only two other players in league history have averaged at least 23 points over an entire season, Katie Smith (23.1) in 2001 and Lauren Jackson (23.8) in ’07.

No other player has ever reached the 800-point plateau. In fact, only two, have surpassed 700, Seimone Augustus (744 in ’06, 769 in ’07) and Jackson (739 in ’07).

Taurasi also is on pace for 11 30-point games this year which would break Jackson’s WNBA record of nine.

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Phoenix is without its second-leading scorer from last season, Penny Taylor, but coach Corey Gaines said he hasn’t put any pressure on Taurasi, who averaged 19.2 points in ’07, to pick up the slack.

“It’s just her getting better. She’s older now, more of a veteran,” he said. “She knows the way we play, the system we run, where shots come from.”

Taurasi has twice received player of the week honors this season and is the only player to win the award multiple times. But she said she’s not consciously looking to score more.

“Obviously without Penny I get a couple more looks,” she said. “I think for now we’re all trying to find our little niche, I’m just getting a few more opportunities, maybe.

“Other than that, I’m just going out there and playing, being aggressive to get people involved, myself involved. I’m just trying to set the tone.”

Taurasi is doing that more efficiently as well. She shot 45.2 percent in 2006, but this season is shooting a career-high 47.9 percent. Over the last four games she’s been even better, sinking 61.3 percent (38 of 62) of her shots. During that span she’s also hit 55.6 percent of her 3-point attempts (15 of 27) and is averaging 29.3 points.

“I’m just throwing them (shots) up there and seeing what happens,” Taurasi said. “I’ve been feeling pretty good. We’ve been running our sets really well. I’ve been getting some major screens, getting some good looks.

“Thankfully they’re going in.”

COPYRIGHT 2008, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.