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Mercury to work on road woes vs. slumping Sky

May 13, 2023; Toronto, Ontario, Canada; Chicago Sky guard Kahleah Copper (2) drives to the net against Minnesota Lynx forward Bridget Carleton (6) during the first half at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

As their home city sweltered in triple-digit temperatures throughout July, the Phoenix Mercury created their own heat earlier this month, winning back-to-back home games for their first consecutive victories this season.

But while their current four-game road trip has provided an escape from the scorching desert temperatures, the Mercury have cooled off in more ways than they would have liked.

Phoenix (6-17) lost the first two games of its road trip and drags a WNBA-worst 1-11 road record into Chicago for a Sunday showdown against the Sky.

The persistent road struggles, compounded by injuries, have put the Mercury in danger of missing the postseason for the first time since 2012.

“We have to figure something out and just keep giving our best effort,” Mercury interim coach Nikki Blue said after Tuesday’s 78-65 road loss to the Atlanta Dream. “We have a couple more road games coming up here that we think if we are all healthy, we can come out strong and really compete.”

Phoenix played Tuesday without Diana Taurasi (quadriceps/toe), who missed her seventh game this season, although she could return for Sunday’s contest.

Megan Gustafson stepped up with a career-best 19-points off the bench in the loss, and Brittney Griner logged all 16 of her points before halftime. Griner went 0 of 3 from the field in nine second-half minutes.

The Sky (9-15) also are looking to remain in the playoff mix amid a two-game skid that includes Friday’s 83-74 home clunker against the Seattle Storm, who snapped their franchise-record 10-game losing streak.

Kahleah Copper scored 17 points to lead Chicago in scoring for the seventh straight game, but the Sky were dominated 46-26 on the glass.

Seattle snatched 16 offensive rebounds and cashed in with 26 second-chance points to nine for Chicago.

The Sky, which hasn’t missed the postseason since 2018, has lost six of their past seven games and enters Saturday jostling with the Los Angeles Sparks for the final spot in the WNBA playoffs.

Interim coach/GM Emre Vatansever still believes his squad is a legitimate threat.

“This team is capable of beating anybody,” Vatansever said, according to the Chicago Sun Times, after Friday’s loss. “We showed that a couple of days ago, it just didn’t reflect in the score.”

Sunday’s winner will claim the season series. Chicago took down Phoenix 75-69 on May 21 at Arizona before the Mercury pulled even at home with an 80-62 victory on July 20.

–Field Level Media

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