After missing the last nine games with a chest injury, Diana Taurasi returned to the lineup Sunday en route to leading the Phoenix Mercury to a 88-79 win over the Los Angeles Sparks.
Coming off a season-high four-game losing streak, the Mercury have now won each of their last two games with both coming against the Sparks — improving their record to 7-7. Meanwhile, the Sparks have now lost three of their last four games while dropping to 6-8 on the campaign.
Diana Taurasi did not miss a beat, scoring 25 points in her return while connecting on four three-pointers and adding four rebounds and three assists. In the first quarter of the game, Diana Taurasi became the first player in WNBA history to ever score 9,000 career points.
Brittney Griner followed with 22 points, eight rebounds and two blocks while Skylar Diggins-Smith added 16 points and four assists. Kia Nurse recorded 13 points and six rebounds followed by Brianna Turner who had eight points, 15 rebounds and two steals.
Erica Wheeler led the Sparks with 21 points, four assists and three rebounds while Te’a Cooper scored 20 points. Brittney Sykes came off the bench to fill the stat sheet with 11 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Despite the Sparks shooting a much better percentage from the field in the first quarter, the Mercury were able to keep the game close by getting to and converting from the free throw line. The Sparks took a 26-24 lead into the second quarter with Erics Wheeler and Te’a Cooper combining for 17 of their points.
With the game tied 40-40 with 1:29 remaining in the first half, the Mercury scored seven straight points on their way to taking a four-point lead at the half.
The third quarter saw the Mercury take complete control of the game outscoring the Sparks 22-12 to take a 14-point lead into the fourth quarter. The Mercury caught fire from deep shooting 4-of-5 from three-point range in the period. The Mercury would cruise to victory building on their third quarter run leading by as many as 19 in the fourth quarter.