Mercury-Sun Preview

The Associated Press

A return to their fast-paced, high-scoring ways have the Phoenix Mercury soaring up the Western Conference standings.

It might be difficult for the low-scoring Connecticut Sun to keep up - even with the potential return of Kara Lawson.

The Mercury try for their longest winning streak in two seasons Saturday when they visit a Connecticut team looking to avoid its worst skid since 2010.

After averaging 77.0 points during an 0-3 start, Phoenix coach Corey Gaines decided to shift the team's focus back to an up-tempo offense despite the addition of Brittney Griner.

Since then, the Mercury (6-4) have averaged 90.0 points while winning six of seven. They've also moved atop the league with 86.1 points per game and rank second with a 46.4 field-goal percentage.

"The dumb GM was thinking we shouldn't run anymore, slow down and throw the ball into Brittney for kick outs,'' said Gaines, who is also the team's general manager. "That didn't work out too well.

"So we went back to our regular game, up-tempo and let (Griner) play with us."

Guard Diana Taurasi leads the WNBA at 24.1 points per game and has scored 26 or more in six of seven.

Taurasi had 26 and DeWanna Bonner added 22 - including eight straight made free throws in the final 23.6 seconds - to lead Phoenix past the Mystics 101-97 on Thursday night for their third straight win.

The Mercury, who haven't won four in a row since a six-game run July 1-15, 2011, appear to have a good chance to keep rolling against the short-handed Sun (2-6).

Connecticut has dropped three in a row and six of seven, though it gave WNBA-best Atlanta everything it could handle in a 78-77 home loss Sunday.

Tina Charles had 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds and Kelsey Griffin added 16 points for Connecticut, which closed the game with an 18-5 run.

"(We) just ran out of time, but we have to be more consistent throughout the whole game," Griffin said.

The Sun played without key guards Lawson (bruised knee), Renee Montgomery (high left ankle sprain) and Tan White (broken right finger).

Lawson, the team's second-leading scorer at 15.8 points per game, is a game-time decision against the Mercury. Her return could be a big lift for a Connecticut team that's among the WNBA's worst offensive teams (72.0 ppg).

Although the Sun have won five of six meetings, Bonner had 35 points and Taurasi added 16 to lead Phoenix to a 91-82 victory in Connecticut on Sept. 7. Lawson, though, had 30 points, eight rebounds and seven assists in a 100-78 Sun win five days later.

The Sun haven't dropped four straight since July 30-Aug. 5, 2010.

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