Silver Stars-Mercury Preview

The Associated Press

With their star guard back on the court, the Phoenix Mercury look to bounce back from their first September loss and further build some momentum heading into the playoffs.

Diana Taurasi returns from a one-game suspension when the Mercury try to hand the visiting San Antonio Silver Stars a fourth consecutive loss Friday night.

Minus Taurasi (20.8 points, 6.2 assists per game), Phoenix (18-14) led most of the night but failed to hold a nine-point, fourth-quarter advantage and fell 70-68 at Chicago on Wednesday when Elena Delle Donne hit the winning jumper as time expired.

The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Mercury, who are locked into the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference and will face Los Angeles to open the playoffs. Despite the outcome, Phoenix feels confident moving forward after holding the East leaders to 40.4 percent shooting while playing short-handed.

"We're ready for the playoffs," forward Candice Dupree told the Mercury's official website. "I think everybody played really well (Wednesday), and we showed that we can go pretty far in the playoffs."

The Mercury have a chance behind Taurasi, who was suspended for an accumulation of technical fouls. She picked up her ninth of the season in the third quarter of Tuesday night's 80-76 win at New York.

Taurasi had 21 points and seven assists during Phoenix's 83-80 home win over last-place San Antonio (11-21) last Friday, while Brittney Griner had 16 points and 14 rebounds before fouling out.

Griner has averaged 17.7 points and 8.3 rebounds as the Mercury have won two of the three games she's played against the Silver Stars. She missed an 88-80 home loss July 10 with a sprained left knee.

Dupree has averaged 20.0 points in two home games versus San Antonio.

The Silver Stars will try to regroup after Tulsa's Riquna Williams scored a WNBA-record 51 points in a 98-65 road win over the Silver Stars on Sunday. The second-year guard surpassed the previous mark of 47 set by Taurasi against Houston on Aug. 10, 2006, and matched by Seattle's Lauren Jackson versus Washington on July 24, 2007.

Tulsa shot 55.1 percent in that contest while holding the Silver Stars to 38.7. San Antonio has shot 37.1 percent during its three-game slide.

Silver Stars forward Danielle Adams scored 26 points at Phoenix last week, and is averaging 20.0 in four games against the Mercury this season.