The injury situation keeps getting worse for the Phoenix Mercury, who were down to eight players their last time out. They’ll have to hope that their depleted lineup is enough to overcome a struggling Chicago Sky team that’s missing its best player.
Phoenix will try to avoid a third straight defeat Friday night when it visits Chicago, which is looking to end a three-game losing streak.
With Penny Taylor out for the season and Diana Taurasi limited to two games because of a hip flexor injury, Phoenix has continued to be hit by the injury bug. Forward Candice Dupree, averaging 15.8 points and 5.8 rebounds, was the latest to go down, missing a 96-80 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday with a left knee injury.
Nakia Sanford, who has started nine games, was also out with a knee contusion. Dupree and Sanford’s statuses for Friday are uncertain.
The injuries left the Mercury (3-9) with eight players Wednesday, and they were down another one briefly when Samantha Prahalis left due to bleeding from a left leg injury. Prahalis scored 20 points while DeWanna Bonner had a team-high 23, giving her at least 23 in three of her last four games.
Phoenix shot 35.1 percent and was outrebounded 45-31, though it managed to keep the game close until the fourth quarter.
“They’re doing the best they can,” coach Corey Gaines said. “They’re playing hard with a young point guard, but they’re doing OK.”
The Mercury have lost five of six. Wednesday marked the first of four straight road games for Phoenix, which is 1-6 away from home and has lost five straight by an average of 15.8 points.
While the Mercury are struggling with Taurasi sidelined, Chicago (7-4) has had similar problems without Epiphanny Prince, out with a fractured right foot.
The Sky’s last two defeats have come without their star guard, who’s averaging a career-best 22.3 points. Sylvia Fowles scored 14 of her 19 points in the second half and finished with 10 rebounds against Indiana on Wednesday, but Chicago committed 15 turnovers and lost 81-72.
Fowles is averaging 19.4 points, but the Sky have missed the outside threat that Prince provides. She leads the team in 3-pointers attempted and made, hitting 53.7 percent (29 of 54) from beyond the arc. In the last two games, Chicago has gone 7 of 27 on 3s.
The Sky received a solid contribution Wednesday from Tamera Young, who started in Prince’s place for a second straight game. She scored 15 points - one off her season high - while shooting 6 of 12.
Young had scored 11 points combined in her previous two games while connecting on four of 16 shots.
The Mercury won both games against the Sky last season.