Mercury-Lynx Preview

The Phoenix Mercury have tried all season to recapture the form that led them to their first WNBA championship in 2007. Their last game, however, guaranteed that they'd have to wait at least one more year to make a run at another title.

After getting eliminated from postseason contention, the Mercury visit the Minnesota Lynx on Friday night in both lottery teams' second-to-last game of the season.

Phoenix (15-17) had missed the playoffs for six straight years before going 23-11 in the regular season and 7-2 in the playoffs to claim its first championship in 2007.

There won't be another happy ending to this season, however, after the Mercury were eliminated from postseason contention with an 89-78 loss to Detroit on Tuesday night at The Palace of Auburn Hills, the same court on which they won the title last Sept. 16.

Phoenix became the first champion in league history to miss the playoffs the following season.

"This is hard," said Mercury forward Diana Taurasi, who scored 22 points Tuesday. "But we have no one to blame but ourselves."

Phoenix lost its first four games of the season, and despite playing well for stretches, never fully recovered.

"Last year, we put everything into winning this, and this year we didn't have that effort," Taurasi said. "We don't deserve to make the playoffs."

The Lynx (15-17) aren't heading to the postseason either despite delivering their highest win total since an 18-16 finish in 2004.

Seimone Augustus has been integral to Minnesota's improvement, but she won't be able to finish the season after suffering a mild concussion in the Lynx's 86-76 win over Indiana on Tuesday night.

The third-year forward fell while going up for a rebound, and immediately grabbed the back of her neck and winced in pain while being attended to by Minnesota's training staff. She remained on her back for more than five minutes before sitting up to have a neck brace applied. Augustus was moving her legs while on the floor before leaving the game in a wheelchair.

Augustus, who was third in the league in scoring with 19.1 points per game, was seen exiting the Target Center shortly before halftime, walking gingerly on her own with the neck brace still on. She went to a local hospital, where the team said a CT scan was negative.

Minnesota also lost 2008 first-round pick Candice Wiggins, who tore the lateral meniscus in her right knee and will likely need surgery. Wiggins is averaging 15.7 points, second among WNBA rookies.

"We don't want either of them to do anything that could jeopardize their tremendously promising futures in the WNBA with the Lynx," coach Don Zierden said.

The Lynx and Mercury have split their first two meetings with the home team winning each contest. They met in Phoenix last Wednesday, when Taurasi scored 32 points in the Mercury's 103-96 victory.

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