Douglas leads Fever past Mercury

PHOENIX(AP) Katie Douglas and the streaking Indiana Fever got the jump on the Phoenix Mercury in a showdown between WNBA conference leaders.

Douglas hit a career-high six 3-pointers and finished with 28 points, 10 rebounds and five assists in Indiana's 90-83 victory Saturday night.

Riding a 17-2 start Saturday night against the highest-scoring team in the WNBA, the Fever - a league-best 17-4 - won their fifth straight to move 5 1/2 games ahead of second-place Washington in the Eastern Conference.

"We're not a team frequently that gets off to great starts but we knew the importance of this road trip and this game,'' Douglas said. "We know what kind of team they are. They are an energy, fast-pace team, so for us to get off to a fast start was extremely crucial for us.''

Tamika Catchings added 15 points, seven rebounds and five assists, and Jessica Moore had 19 points and eight rebounds for Indiana.

"It was a great battle,'' Fever coach Linn Dunn said. "The thing that really helped us was that we got off to such a great start.''

Diana Taurasi, playing in foul trouble in the second half, had 16 points for the Mercury (16-7). Cappie Pondexter added 12 points, five assists and three steals.

"They came out in a blaze of glory,'' Taurasi said. "They played a good game, we didn't. They capitalized on things that they saw.

"They were putting it up and they were going in, getting to the free-throw line. They did what they do.''

Indiana did get to the foul line twice as much as Phoenix, making 27 of 30 to the Mercury's 14 of 15. The Fever also outrebounded Phoenix 43-26, allowing the Mercury just three offensive boards.

"It really killed us,'' Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. "It gives them second-chance points and free throws and it just slows down the game. That is something we don't want to happen.''

Phoenix never really got its high-powered offense in gear and was held to nine points under its league-leading average of 92.5 a game, losing for just the second time in six games. The Mercury made three of 14 attempts from 3-point range.

"I thought our defense was tough,'' Dunn said. "I thought we made Pondexter and Taurasi work for their shots, work for their points. We wanted to make somebody else beat us.''

The Fever also won again without starting center Tammy Sutton-Brown, who sat out her fourth game because of a stress reaction in her right big toe.

Indiana, with the best defense in the league allowing 71.8 points a game going into the night, jumped out to a 17-2 lead in the first 3:31 of the game but Phoenix cut away at the lead and trailed 44-39 at the break.

"Just because we're defense first doesn't mean we don't like to run.'' Dunn said. "I thought we set the tone in the first five minutes of the game, 'hey we're going to run too, we can run and shoot too.'''

Phoenix pulled to 63-60 with 2:31 left in the third quarter, but Fever rookie Briann January hit a 3-pointer to start a 10-2 run.

Douglas hit a long 3-pointer, and Tamecka Dixon followed with a fast-break layup to give the Fever a 81-67 lead with 6:27 remaining.

"We played in little spurts,'' Taurasi said. "And that's not enough to beat a good team like this, so reality comes and knocks you back down. It's all good, we need it sometimes.''

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