Phoenix hasn’t enjoyed much success lately at Arco Arena. After starting the season with two straight wins, though, the Mercury may be able to expect better results Friday night.
The Mercury look to remain unbeaten when they open a home-and home series Friday night in Sacramento against a Monarchs club still seeking its first victory of the season.
Phoenix is now seeking its best start since 1998, when it finished 19-11 and earned a trip to the WNBA finals, where it lost to the Houston Comets in three games.
Despite the strong start including a 90-79 win over San Antonio last Saturday - and a pair of preseason wins - Mercury coach Corey Gaines feels his club has plenty of room to improve.
“We’re still not playing well,” Gaines said. “We’re wearing teams down. We are keeping the same pace and the same pressure on them.
“They hit some good shots (Wednesday), they got some good players but what happened was as you saw in the other game they tired a little bit faster and couldn’t keep the push with us.”
Pondexter, second in the league in scoring last season to Taurasi, led the Mercury with 23 points in their last regular-season visit to Arco Arena - an 83-74 loss last July 24. Pondexter averaged 25.0 points and 4.7 assists as Phoenix dropped two of three to the Monarchs last season, including both matchups in Sacramento.
The Mercury have lost 14 of 17 at Arco Arena since winning their first four visits there.
The Monarchs (0-2) are seeking to bounce back from a pair of 10-point defeats to Seattle, losing 80-70 on the road Sunday after falling 71-61 to the Storm on Saturday.
“These two games for us are not the way we wanted to start the season. They’re a little bit farther along than we are,” Sacramento guard Kara Lawson said Sunday after scoring 17 points and grabbing seven rebounds. “We have some areas for growth. The biggest thing we’re focused on right now is trying to get better and stay positive. This is just two games.”
Lawson and forward Nicole Powell, who scored a team-high 13.6 points per game last season, are the only two Monarchs averaging in double figures (11.0) through two contests.
Sacramento has won 11 of 13 regular-season home games dating to last season, but starting with Saturday night’s game in Phoenix, the Monarchs play six of seven on the road.
The all-time series between the Mercury and Monarchs is tied at 21.