Short-Handed Mercury Fall to Lynx
The Mercury’s win at Los Angeles three nights ago did more than just end Phoenix’s season-high tying three-game losing streak; it also snapped the Sparks’ 19-game home win streak. The win came against a tough Sparks squad despite not having a fully healthy Mercury team.
Like Thursday, the Mercury was again short-handed tonight playing without Brittney Griner (knee sprain), Penny Taylor (rest) and Lynetta Kizer (knee strain).
In spite of a late rally by the Mercury, Maya Moore hit a 3-pointer, stole an inbounds pass and made a layup in the final minute to lift the West-leading Minnesota Lynx to their sixth straight victory, 82-77.
Gaines and his staff utilized the hybrid zone that seemed to work well in the Sparks game. Tonight, they forced the Lynx into 43 percent shooting from the floor, including just 22 percent from three-point range.
“It’s our second game,” Gaines said on using the zone. “We decided we were going to go all the way back to the way we used to play so we just had to re-figure out a way to play the zone without getting zone defense called because it was different before. So once I figured it out and asked a couple of questions and watched some tapes, we started working on it.
“We started working on it two days before the Los Angeles game and it is very effective. What happens is it makes teams hesitant.”
Diana Taurasi recorded her fourth consecutive 20-point effort, her second-longest streak of the season (6), and her 11th 20-point effort overall (WNBA-record 162 for her career). The five-time WNBA scoring champion is currently averaging a league-leading 22.4 points (including tonight).
DeWanna Bonner found her stroke and scored her sixth 20-point game of the season and her third 20-10 game. Including tonight, Bonner owns a franchise-record 13 career 20-10 games. Candice Dupree scored 10 points, recording her eighth consecutive double-digit scoring performance and 14th in her last 16 games.
Today’s game marked the fourth of five meetings between these teams in 2013, three of which come in the Twin Cities (their final match-up is on Wednesday, July 24 in Minnesota). The Lynx now own a nine-game series win streak and have won 11 of the last 12 meetings overall.
Still, the Mercury hasn’t quite played Minnesota (or other WNBA teams, for that matter) with a fully healthy squad yet this season. The Mercury’s eight losses are to opponents with a combined record of 87-43 and four of Phoenix’s eight total losses this season have come against Minnesota.
Phoenix has had its full roster available for just one of those games.
Indeed, the Mercury hopes their next meeting will be different.
“I think we have had a pretty good first half [of the season] especially since we aren’t fully healthy,” DeWanna Bonner said. “We have a lot of new people. Brittney [Griner] is new, and she has been out. They [Minnesota] played their best basketball and we are nowhere near that.
"When people come back we just have to tighten up and we will be ok.”
The Mercury dropped both home games against the Lynx this season despite leading after three quarters in both games. Minnesota outscored Phoenix by a combined 47-22 in the fourth quarters of those games, and the Mercury shot a combined 6-of-32 (.188) from the field, including just 4-of-19 (.211) tonight.
Quote of the Night: Corey Gaines on the state of his team
“If I can get my whole team out there, I could give you an answer. I have not had my full team yet. Penny Taylor is the rock and it is tough when she is not out there."