Mercury-Fever Preview


The Phoenix Mercury own the WNBA's best record. With Brittney Griner's continued improvement, they may have the makings of a championship club.

High-scoring Phoenix will look to knock off the defensively-inept Indiana Fever for a third straight meeting Friday night.

The Mercury (9-3) have won three in a row and five of six while averaging 88.3 points. They're also averaging a league-best 85.3 points on the season.

Griner's recent surge has provided quite the boost. She scored a career-high 28 points in a 91-80 home win over Tulsa on Friday, going 12 of 14 from the field. Griner was coming off a 27-point performance in a June 18 win over Minnesota and is averaging 21.4 points over her last five contests.

The second-year pro also matched a career best with six blocks and leads the league with 3.3 per game.

"This is what she does, she's a game-changer," coach Sandy Brondello said. "In the middle, she anticipates shot blocking so well. She's playing great. We need everyone gunning but she has that dominant presence inside it just helps our team function on all levels."

Griner's teammates are benefiting by way of getting better looks on the perimeter. With Tulsa bearing down in the paint on Griner, Penny Taylor and Diana Taurasi were each 2 for 3 from 3-point range. Taurasi, who leads all players with 6.6 assists per game, tallied a career-high 12 to go along with 14 points.

The Fever (6-7) have lost three of four and are surrendering 88.5 points per game in that stretch. They had allowed 74.2 points through their first nine contests.

They gave up 32 points to Skylar Diggins in Wednesday's 107-102 overtime home loss to Tulsa.

Indiana, however, led by as many as 17 in the third quarter.

Shavonte Zellous scored a career-high 33 points, but missed the first of a pair of free throws with a two-point edge with 7.8 seconds left in regulation. Diggins forced the extra period with a 3-pointer on the ensuing possession.

"We had the game. We just let them take it right from us," said Zellous, who had totaled 38 points over her three previous contests. "We weren't as aggressive as we should have been and we allowed them to play comfortable."

Phoenix took both matchups last year, though Griner missed one win due to injury. Taurasi scored 26 in an 82-67 victory on June 8, 2013.