10:00 PM ET, June 21, 2013
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Brittney Griner scores season-high 21 as Mercury rally to top Mystics
PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Mercury have one of the WNBA's most consistent scorers and the league's top rookie, and needed both to hold off the Washington Mystics on Friday night.
Diana Taurasi scored 31 points and rookie Brittney Griner added a season-best 21 to lead the Phoenix Mercury to a 90-82 victory over the Washington Mystics.
After trailing by 13, Washington went on a 13-2 run over three minutes of the fourth quarter to get within 80-78 with 3:21 remaining, but missed shots on back-to-back possessions in the final three minutes allowed Phoenix to pull away.
"We have to do a better job of that," Taurasi said. "We need to make sure people are going to the paint."
The Mercury did do a better job of getting the ball inside, particularly to Griner, the league's No. 1 draft pick, who also had four rebounds and four blocked shots in her 26 minutes.
"It was our defense, we buckled down," Washington's Monique Currie said. "We got some stops consecutively and we were executing on offense."
Taurasi added five assists and five rebounds for the Mercury (4-4), who have won four of their past five after losing their first three games.
Ivory Latta had 22 points and five assists for the Mystics (4-3), who trailed by double digits in the second and third quarters. Matee Ajavon had 18 points, and Currie add 17 points and eight rebounds for Washington.
"Their shots were falling," Washington coach Mike Thibault said. "It's disappointing because we had a chance to get back in the game; we took some bad shots down the stretch."
Candice Dupree added 12 points and six rebounds for the Mercury, who doubled the Mystics inside 44-22.
Thibault says the 6-foot-8 Griner presents a difficult matchup.
"It's hard because of her size and the length of her arms, but we were trying to help on her some and we were late," he said.
Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said he wanted Griner to stay inside when the Mercury were in their half-court offense.
"We had a little talk, and she had been posting up on the block," Gaines said. "She has been going outside that circle. She has to be staying inside the circle. She stayed inside the circle tonight, and that helped us a lot. Instead of being 5 feet away from the basket, she was 3 feet away from the basket."
Both teams had won three straight before losing earlier in the week.
Phoenix shot 20-of-34 (59 percent) in the first half in taking a 49-38 lead at the break. Taurasi had 17 points and three assists, while Griner scored 13 points in 13 minutes as the Mercury started to find the No. 1 draft pick inside. At one point, 26 of Phoenix's 31 points came from in the paint.
The Mercury, the second-best shooting team in the WNBA, ended the night 32-of-62 from the field (52 percent), their best night of the season. They had their worst shooting night of the year Wednesday in an 80-69 loss to Minnesota.
PHOENIX, AZ - JUNE 21: Matee Ajavon #22 of the Washington Mystics shoots against DeWanna Bonner #24 of the Phoenix...
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