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After an opening game loss to the Los Angeles Sparks, the Phoenix Mercury showed major improvements on both sides of the basketball as they finished their first full week in the WNBA Bubble at 2-2. Their 2-1 week included games against the Indiana Fever, Las Vegas Aces and New York Liberty.
So let’s briefly take a quick look back at Mercury’s week:
Wednesday: Loss vs. Indiana
On Wednesday, even though Bria Hartley scored a career-high 25 points, Phoenix couldn’t make enough stops as they fell to the Indiana Fever by the score of 106-100. The Mercury allowed the Fever to shoot 51.4% from the floor and Indiana had four players score 18 or more points in the game.
“We overhelped when we didn’t need to overhelp. We gave them really easy looks,” said Mercury Head Coach Sandy Bordello.
Between the hot shooting of Hartley and Alanna Smith’s 14 points, the Mercury’s bench outscored the Fever 49-33, keeping Phoenix in the game. But it wasn’t enough as Tiffany Mitchell, Candice Dupree (23 points and 9 rebounds), Kelsey Mitchell (18 points) and Teaira McCowan (20 points and 13 rebounds off the bench) made enough plays to allow Indiana to gain their first victory of the season.
Friday: Victory vs. Las Vegas
The Big 3 (Diana Taurasi, Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittany Griner) combined for 62 points and Hartley added 15 points of her own, as the Mercury defeated the Las Vegas Aces 102-95. This was Phoenix’s first win of the season.
Taurasi, Diggins-Smith and Hartley combined to knock down 11 three pointers on 19 combined attempts as the Mercury were able to move the basketball around to create open shots all game. Phoenix had 30 assists on 38 made baskets.
After taking only five shots against Indiana, Taurasi showed more aggression from the start on Friday night. She finished the game shooting seven for 12 from the floor and knocked down four three pointers in the contest. On top of her 22 points, she added 10 assists and looked like the player that was playing at a dominant level in 2018.
Speaking of looking like a player that was at the top of her game in that season, Diggins-Smith showed why she’s one of the elite guards in the entire league. Besides her 22 points, she added five assists and a key steal off an inbounds pass in the fourth quarter to finish off the Aces (1-2).
Sunday: Victory vs. New York
Phoenix played their best defensive game of the season, holding the New York Liberty to 24.7% percent shooting in their 96-67 victory on Sunday afternoon. The Mercury won their second game in a row.
Bordello’s team got off to a hot start and led by 14 points at halftime. But for the fourth game in a row, Phoenix’s defense allowed the opposition to cut the lead.
After the Liberty cut the lead down to one point with two minutes left in the third quarter, the Mercury’s defense held the Liberty to one field goal over the next nine minutes of game action. That drought allowed Phoenix to extend the lead to 24.
Hartley set her career-high in points for the second time in three games, as she scored 27 points against her former team. With her 79 points off the bench in the opening four games, Hartley set the WNBA scoring record for the most points off the bench to start the season. The previous record was 78 by the Liberty’s Kia Nurse.
Taurasi finished with 18 points and nine assists and Griner had 16 points and six rebounds even though she spent most of the game in foul trouble.