Mercury-Shock Preview


While the Phoenix Mercury are coming off their first loss under interim coach Russ Pennell, they may like their chances of bouncing back Tuesday night. The visiting Mercury go for a four-game season sweep of the Tulsa Shock as these Western Conference rivals meet for the third time in 12 days. After posting back-to-back home wins over Tulsa on Aug. 9 and 11 in Pennell's first two games at the helm, Phoenix cruised to a 75-58 victory over Indiana on Wednesday. The Mercury, though, couldn't keep up three days later in an 88-82 loss at San Antonio. Giving up a WNBA-worst 81.9 points per game, the Mercury had surrendered an average of 60.3 during the winning streak before letting up Saturday. The Mercury shot 50.8 percent and outscored the Silver Stars 44-28 in the paint. "We wanted to go inside out, which is what we try to do," center Brittney Griner said. "We tried everything. We tried spreading them out and attacking. We had stretches where it worked, but our defense hurt us." Diana Taurasi, averaging 21.1 points to rank second in the league, scored 23 and Charde Houston had 15. Griner and Candice Dupree combined for 21. "Obviously we've got good size," Pennell said. "We're one of the bigger teams in the league and we try to go inside. ... That should be an advantage for us." The Mercury (13-12) have certainly had an edge against the Shock (8-17), holding them to 37.8 percent shooting in three matchups. Phoenix, which outscored Tulsa a combined 66-42 in the paint earlier this month, also pulled out a 108-103 road win in overtime June 16 behind Taurasi's 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. Phoenix has taken 13 of 15 from the Shock, including six of seven in Tulsa. The Mercury, though, have lost a season-worst three straight on the road. The Shock had dropped three in a row before bouncing back to beat WNBA-leading Minnesota 83-77 on Friday in the conclusion of a four-game road trip. Elizabeth Cambage scored 27 points to lead six players in double figures for Tulsa, which went 29 for 58 from the field. "Everything just finally came together," said Cambage, who played a season-high 36 minutes. "We were working as a team, everyone was hitting shots. If I got doubled, we could hit the outside shot and if they left it open, I could go to work. It was just a good team game." While the Shock still sit at the bottom of the West, they are 3 1/2 games behind Seattle for the fourth and final playoff spot. "We feel like we can make a run," coach Gary Kloppenburg said. "This is great for a young team to come in and beat a high-level team from a confidence level." Averaging 16.0 points and a team-leading 9.5 boards, Tulsa forward Glory Johnson could miss a third straight game with a head injury.