Mercury looking to continue surge vs. Dream

The Mercury look to bolster their playoff positioning at the expense of the Atlanta Dream on Sunday when the teams meet in Phoenix.

The Mercury (11-15) earned their fifth win in their last eight outings with an 80-75 victory over the Washington Mystics on Thursday. Phoenix resides in seventh place in the standings, mere percentage points ahead of Atlanta (10-14) and Los Angeles (10-14).

Diana Taurasi sank five 3-pointers to highlight her 29-point performance for the Mercury, who overcame a 15-point deficit after the first quarter.

“I think as you get in this league, these games are so long, and you might be down, whatever, 12, 13 points, but it’s a long game,” Taurasi said, per the Arizona Republic. “I don’t say much, but I always say it’s a long game. It’s a long game. There’s a lot of possessions and a lot of things that can happen.”

Taurasi avenged a disastrous two-point performance in the Mercury’s 81-54 setback against Atlanta on May 29 by scoring 23 in a 90-88 victory over the Dream on June 10.

Rhyne Howard scored 25 points in Atlanta’s more recent meeting against Phoenix. The All-Star rookie guard is chipping in a team-best 14.7 points per game this season.

“She’s playing the same exact way she normally plays,” Dream coach Tanisha Wright told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution about Howard earlier this year. “She is never hurried and knows where she’s able to get shots. The offense we run opens up the floor a bit for her.”

Howard, however, did not play in the Dream’s 93-68 setback to the Connecticut Sun on Friday due to a right shoulder injury. Nia Coffey also sat out because of a right knee injury for Atlanta, which has lost three in a row and 10 of its last 13 games.

Tiffany Hayes contributed 18 points on Friday and rookie Naz Hillmon notched her first career double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds off the bench.

–Field Level Media

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