Mercury-Shock Preview

The Associated Press

With Diana Taurasi and Brittney Griner giving them one of most potent inside-outside combinations in the WNBA, the high-scoring Phoenix Mercury are on the verge of matching their best start in five years.

After posting their best offensive effort of the season a week ago against Tulsa, the visiting Mercury look to replicate the performance as they go for their sixth straight victory over the winless Shock on Friday night.

Phoenix will try to equal its 5-1 start of 2009, the last time the club won the WNBA title. That team was also led by Taurasi, who's now looking to get this year's Mercury to within one victory of the franchise-best 6-1 start in 1998.

The All-Star guard had at least 20 points for the third time in four games Tuesday, scoring 20 with seven assists in an 87-72 home win over Seattle. She's leading the Mercury with 17.8 points and 5.2 assists per game.

Griner is proving just as difficult to contain in the paint after finishing with 19 points, eight rebounds and four assists Tuesday. The second-year center, who has scored in double figures in five straight games, is averaging 15.4 points and 7.2 rebounds.

''I think everything has slowed down for her a little bit," said Taurasi, who has averaged 23.2 points in the last five meetings with the Shock. "As a rookie, you don't know what to expect.''

Taurasi and Griner combined to go 18 of 20 from the foul line when Phoenix recorded a season-high point total in a 100-78 home win over Tulsa last Friday. Erin Phillips added 15 points and hit three of the team's 10 3s.

The Mercury lead the WNBA with a 51.0 field-goal percentage and 40.5 3-point percentage, while ranking second with 83.2 points per game. They've averaged 88.8 points during their winning streak against the Shock, who are allowing league highs of 83.6 points and 48.7 shooting from 3-point range.

Tulsa (0-5), which begins a four-game homestand, remained the only winless club in the league following Sunday's 62-60 loss at Seattle. Glory Johnson had a season-high 21 points with nine rebounds but the Shock dropped their fourth game by four or fewer points.

''I think this team is really learning over the course of the season," coach Fred Williams said. "We're a team that when we step on the floor, we want to be competitive for 40 minutes and I think we're establishing that right now.''

Skylar Diggins, averaging a team-best 16.8 points, looks to bounce back after scoring a season-low six Sunday. The second-year guard scored 20 points against the Mercury last week.

Teammate Riquna Williams struggled with four points on 1-of-7 shooting against the Storm, but she's averaged 26.0 while making 13 of 20 from beyond the arc in her last three against Phoenix.

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