Mercury coach Sandy Brondello on her team’s loss to Minnesota.
Mercury fall to Lynx
From Andrew Vailliencourt
The Mercury just wouldn’t go away.
After trailing for a majority of the first three quarters, the team celebrating the accomplishments of Diana Taurasi came to life in the fourth, taking the lead for the first time since early in the first.
It wouldn’t be enough, however, as the Minnesota Lynx, who hold the WNBA’s best record at 12-1, proved to be too tough in the final minutes. The Lynx topped the Mercury 91-83 on Friday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
With the loss, the Mercury fall to 7-6 on the season.
Brittney Griner was limited to just 20 minutes due to foul trouble and finished with only six points and three rebounds. Camille Little led the way for the Mercury with 16 points and three rebounds, while Taurasi added 15 and Danielle Robinson scored 15.
“We let that one slip away, I didn’t play my best game tonight either,” Griner said. “I got in foul trouble and wasn’t able to help out my team, I was just sitting on the bench. Came in and got another foul and went back to the bench so I definitely need to work on my foul discipline and just adjust to how they’re reffing the game.”
In her first game with the Mercury, Monique Currie played 16 minutes and scored four points off the bench. Angel Robinson, whom the team signed this week, played 13 minutes, and scored two points and grabbed eight rebounds. Yvonne Turner scored 12 points off the bench.
“After tonight, I think we can start talking about what we need to do to get to the next level and put another banner in the rafters,” Taurasi said. “I think we have the pieces, the experience, the youth. So we lost tonight, but we can take a lot of good things out of the game.”
Maya Moore led the Lynx with 21 points, while Sylvia Fowles scored 17 and had eight rebounds.
“Mercury versus the Lynx is always a fun, competitive game, so that is exactly what you got,” Moore said. “Glad we were the ones to come out on top. Obviously, for that side, the crowd, the team wanted to win on a special night. Doesn’t take anything away from the accomplishment that Diana has proven day after day, year after year to put the ball in the hole.”
- Mercury need Griner on the floor, not in foul trouble. Brittney Griner played just five minutes in the first half due to foul trouble, and the Lynx took advantage inside. They scored 20 of their 49 first half points in the paint, and Lynx center Sylvia Fowles had 11. Griner picked up two fouls early in the first quarter and promptly got her third at the start of the second quarter. “It wasn’t her best game obviously,” Brondello said. “Sylvia is such a beast down low that it got (Griner) into foul trouble. Whether they’re fouls or not remains to be determined, but you know it’s two great players going against each other.” That forced newly signed Angel Robinson to play almost nine minutes. She had two points and four rebounds in the half, but obviously didn’t have the same type of presence that Griner would have. Robinson herself picked up three first half fouls. “We thought Angel was very good for someone that’s only practiced one day,” Brondello said. “She gives us more rebounding and a bit more length.”
- Foul fest in Phoenix. From start to finish, the game was riddled with fouls. A total of 40 fouls were called, and 38 free throws were taken between the two teams. Free throw shooting proved to hurt the Mercury, making just 12 of 18 from the line. Meanwhile, the Lynx made 17 of 20. “We just have to keep working, and maybe shoot better free throws and be better at certain things when we do have breakdowns,” Brondello said. “Defensively we had some breakdowns and you can’t have that against a team like Minnesota because they’re just so good.” Both coaches received technical fouls in the first quarter.
- Taurasi honored. After setting the all-time scoring record in WNBA history, Diana Taurasi was honored throughout the game with videos from other sports legends and member of the Mercury organization. Both Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash were featured. “It was just a cool moment, it was really nice,” Taurasi said. “I’m sure when I look back on it a couple years from now it will mean a lot more. Right now I am just kind of going through the season so I am not trying to focus on that.” After the game, the team unveiled a new banner that will hang from the rafters signifying her accomplishment. “I hope I can just be half of the player that she is,” Griner said. “If I can take away just half of what she does, I’ll be happy with my career. What she’s done is just amazing, how she’s done it, every shot she puts up you think is going in.”
- Monique Currie recorded her 1,500th career rebound in her last game with San Antonio before being traded to Phoenix. She is now one of five active players with at least 1,500 rebounds and 150 made three-pointers.
- With her 15 points in Friday’s game, Diana Taurasi has not scored 15 or more points in 10 straight games. It matches her longest regular season streak on scoring more than 15 points since 2011 when she reached the mark in 18 straight games.
- The Mercury celebrated “Taurasi Night” on Friday.
- Lynx forward Rebekkah Brunson passed Tina Thompson (3,070) for third place on the WNBA’s all-time rebounding list after grabbing 10 boards. She needed two entering the game. Tamika Catchings holds the record, with 3,316.
- Yvonne Turner tied a career high in scoring with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting.
Next up, the Mercury will play host to the Washington Mystics, who are currently 10-5 overall and in first place in the Eastern Conference. They have won three straight, with wins over the Chicago Sky, Seattle Storm and New York Liberty. The Mystics will get a chance to add to that streak on Sunday, when they take on the Los Angeles Sparks.
The last time Phoenix lost to Washington at home was in 2010. Since then, the Mercury have won seven straight at home against the Mystics. Phoenix swept the season series last year, winning two of the three games by double digits. It will be the first meeting between the teams this season.
“Each game is important, but coming off a loss it’s definitely important to bounce back and correct what we did wrong and have a better game so we can get this win,” Griner said.
Currie could provide scoring boost Mercury need
The Phoenix Mercury are receiving ample scoring from Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi.
What’s missing most games is the kind of scoring balance needed to beat teams like Minnesota, on a nine-game win streak in the series including the 2015 and 2016 postseason. The Mercury have not beaten the Lynx since Aug. 23, 2015, dropping the last four regular season games and five in the playoffs.
With 10 new players, the Mercury (7-5) are a different team than in 2016. But they’ve lost twice to defending WNBA champion Los Angeles and twice to New York and will need more than their big two to get past Minnesota (11-1), whom they play Friday and in three of their next seven games.
RELATED: Phoenix Mercury 2017 schedule
“They’re a formidable team,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “Every team is beatable, but we have to make sure we bring our A game or it could be tough for us. We have it in us, but we need all the pieces together working in cohesion. Not one person can do it. Brittney and Dee can’t do it. We need another scorer obviously.”
The obvious candidates are veterans Danielle Robinson and Camille Little, obtained in offseason deals, although backup guard Leilani Mitchell currently is the third leading scorer (10.0 ppg). Neither have been huge scorers in the although both averaged 12.9 points in 2014, significantly better than their current marks (Robinson 7.5, Little 6.4).
Reacquiring guard/forward Monique Currie in a trade this week is move directly related to improving bench scoring. The 6-0 Currie was averaging 11.8 points, her highest since 2012, with San Antonio while shooting 43.4 percent overall and 35.9 percent from 3-point. She scored a career high 31 points May 14 and also has had a 29-pointer this season.
Monique Currie talks about her return to the Phoenix Mercury after being traded by San Antonio. Video: Jeff Metcalfe/azcentral sports
“I can bring another scoring option, a veteran presence,” Currie said Friday. “I’m familiar with Sandy’s system so I’ll be able to pick up things pretty quickly. Wherever I can get in and help this team get better, I’m willing to do.”
Currie is in her 12th WNBA season and started for the Mercury in 2015 when Taurasi was sitting out for rest. “She’s one of if not the greatest player of our time so I’m just excited to work together,” with Taurasi, Currie said. “I think I’ll take a lot of pressure off both Griner and Taurasi and it’ll actually probably give me some easy looks. So being able to knock them down is what I’ll focus on. But having a third threat is pretty important.”
Brondello said the Mercury did not want to part with Currie last preseason but were forced to due to salary cap issues. “It’s great to have her back,” Brondello said. “I love everything she brings to the game, and she gives us that other scoring threat. We want her to stay aggressive and play her game. It’ll help Diana and BG (Griner). It’s great to have a scoring punch off the bench.”
Robinson missed two games with an ankle sprain and scored 10 in her return last week. Little had a season high 14 on June 18 then dipped to six (with seven rebounds) in the last game.
“We’re encouraging them (Mitchell included) because we need them,” Brondello said. “We need five people in double figures. That’s what Minnesota is going to do most likely.”
Four Lynx are averaging double figures led by center Sylvia Fowles at 21.0 ppg. Even if 6-9 Griner (23.1 ppg) and 6-6 Fowles, both in WNBA MVP contention, somewhat offset each other, the Mercury need more than Taurasi (18.9) as a scoring threat to counter Minnesota’s Maya Moore (16.0), Seimone Augustus (11.7) and Rebekkah Brunson (10.9).
“Initially it was trying to find where and when we were going to get our shots,” Robinson said. “The way teams are guarding them (Griner, Taurasi), we definitely have a responsibility to be more aggressive and help them out with the scoring part.
Robinson is seventh in the league in assists (4.7 pg) but with her quickness can do more getting to the basket and free throw line. She had no free throw attempts in six of her 10 games.
“I wasn’t being as aggressive as I needed to be,” Robinson said. “I was deferring a little bit too much, still trying to get comfortable in our offense. Sandy has told me don’t stop being who you are because of who we have. We need you to be that aggressive point guard looking to score.”
The Mercury are without three consistent scorers — Penny Taylor (retired), Candice Dupree (traded), DeWanna Bonner (pregnant) — from 2016. Rookie forward Stephanie Talbot is averaging 5.4 points and like Robinson and Little is capable of more.
Mercury’s Lynk jinx
Minnesota has won nine in a row over Phoenix:
Aug. 30, 2015: Lynx 71, Mercury 61
x-Sept. 24, 2015: Lynx 67, Mercury 60
x-Sept. 27, 2015: Lynx 72, Mercury 71
May 14, 2016: Lynx 95, Mercury 76
May 25, 2016: Lynx 85, Mercury 78
June 7, 2016: Lynx 89, Mercury 81
x-Sept. 28, 2016: Lynx 113, Mercury 95
x-Sept. 30, 2016: Lynx 96, Mercury 86
x-Oct. 2, 2016: Lynx 82, Mercury 67
Minnesota Lynx at Phoenix Mercury
When: 7 p.m. Friday.
Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena.
TV: Fox Sports Arizona Plus.
Mercury: WNBA President Lisa Borders and Tina Thompson will be in attendance for Diana Taurasi night, honoring Taurasi surpassing Thompson as WNBA career scoring leader. The first 5,000 fans will receive a Taurasi bobblehead and there will be goat petting zoo set up before the game symbolic of Taurasi’s status as greatest of all time. Thompson had 7,488 career points and Taurasi now is at 7,519. She set the record June 18 in a game at Los Angeles. The Australian National team is training in Phoenix through July 3 in advance of the Asia Cup, July 23-29 in Bangalore, India. Mercury coach Sandy Brondello is Australian Opals head coach through 2020. Her assistants will coach at the Asia Cup, from which four teams will qualify for the 2018 World Cup.
Lynx: Minnesota is a WNBA best 11-1 with its only loss to Connecticut (98-93) on June 17. The Lynx are 2-0 since that defeat, beating Washington (93-76) and San Antonio (87-78 after being down by seven through three quarters). Starters Maya Moore, Rebekkah Brunson, Seimone Augustus and Lindsay Whalen are 122-30 since 2011, the winningest quartet in league history. Starting C Sylvia Fowles is having a MVP-caliber season, averaging 21 points and 10.3 rebounds.
Mercury reacquire Monique Currie in a trade with San Antonio
June 28, 2017
The Phoenix Mercury reacquired guard/forward Monique Currie on Wednesday in a trade with the San Antonio Stars.
Currie, a 2015 starter with the Mercury, returns in exchange for guard Shay Murphy, rookie forward Sophie Brunner out of Arizona State and a 2018 third-round draft pick.
The 6-0 Currie is averaging 11.8 points and 4.8 rebounds for winless San Antonio. She is expected to come off the bench for the Mercury to provide 3-point shooting and additional scoring to complement Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi, who are first and sixth in WNBA points per game, respectively.
Currie has three 20-point games this season including 31 against Washington on May 14 and 29 vs. Dallas on June 21.
In 2015, Currie started all 34 games, averaging 8.4 points during the season when Taurasi did not play in the WNBA.
“We are very excited to bring Mo back to the Mercury family,” said Mercury General Manager Jim Pitman. “She is a known commodity in this league, a proven scorer who can contribute right away. We know how she fits in (coach) Sandy Brondello’s system, we know the kind of player she is in the locker room, and we know her will to win.”
Currie was in Mercury preseason camp in 2016 before being traded to San Antonio for a second-round draft pick.
Currie began her career with Charlotte in 2006 then was with Chicago in 2007 and Washington from 2007-14 before her first stint in Phoenix. She will join the Mercury (7-5) for their home game Friday against Minnesota (11-1).
To fill an open roster spot after the trade, the Mercury signed 6-6 Angel Robinson, acquired last year in a trade with Seattle.
Robinson led Montenegro in scoring and rebounding at the recent EuroBasket Championships. She played in Turkey in the 2016-17 WNBA offseason. With Seattle in 2014, she averaged 2.2 points and 1.4 rebounds.
Mercury rename 1st Street in honor of Diana Taurasi
The City of Phoenix and the Phoenix Mercury have renamed 1st Street in downtown Phoenix to ‘7489 Taurasi Way’ to honor Diana Taurasi for becoming the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer.
A dedication ceremony on Wednesday featured Taurasi, Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, Mercury general manager Jim Pitman and Mercury Vice President Ann Meyers Drysdale.
Taurasi broke Tina Thompson’s mark of 7,488 points on June 18 to become the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer.