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Frustrated Mercury present new look vs. Wings

May 21, 2023; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi (3) holds back Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner (42) after a foul call in the second half against the Chicago Sky at Footprint Center. Mandatory Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

The Phoenix Mercury are set to play their first game under an interim head coach Tuesday as they look to salvage the final game of a three-game road swing during a visit to the Dallas Wings at Arlington, Texas.

Nikki Blue will make her debut as interim coach for Phoenix (2-10), which announced the firing of Vanessa Nygaard on Sunday. The Mercury have the worst record in the WNBA and absorbed their fifth consecutive defeat in a 97-74 loss to the Seattle Storm on Saturday.

‘It’s the first time I’ve ever had a record like this. It’s really frustrating,” the Mercury’s Brittney Griner said following Saturday’s defeat, according to ESPN. ‘I really don’t get it. It’s not going the way we want it to go. It’s not the Phoenix Mercury basketball we all know.”

Griner — averaging 19.1 and 6.4 rebounds per game in her return from a 10-month detention in Russia — scored 11 points, grabbed six rebounds and blocked two shots Saturday in her first game back from a three-game absence due to a hip injury.

Griner scored 24-plus points three times in a stretch of four games before sustaining the injury June 13 against Seattle. The stretch includes a 24-point effort in Phoenix’s 84-79 loss at Dallas on June 7.

The Wings defeated the Mercury in consecutive games in early June. Since then, however, Dallas is 1-5 after back-to-back losses at Los Angeles.

The Wings (6-8) coughed up a 17-point lead to the Sparks in a 76-74 loss on Friday, then were outscored 22-10 in the fourth quarter of a 93-83 loss on Sunday.

“It goes back to executing and not playing to avoid losing, but playing to win and sticking together when that adversity hits,” Wings coach Latricia Trammell said. “That’s the growth area for this team.”

Arike Ogunbowale and Satou Sabally — both of whom were voted to the WNBA All-Star Game — scored less than their season point-per-game averages in the losses at Los Angeles. Ogunbowale scored 16 on Friday and 18 on Sunday, with an average of 22.4 points per game.

Sabally finished with 13 and eight points in the losses, well below her 18.6 points per game.

–Field Level Media

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