Mystics-Mercury Preview

The Phoenix Mercury and Washington Mystics were two of the league's hottest teams heading into their last contests, but humbling defeats made both realize they have plenty to improve upon. Phoenix seeks a fourth victory in five tries versus visiting Washington as the teams meet Friday night. The Mercury (3-4) had won three straight before falling to defending Western Conference champion Minnesota 80-69 on Wednesday. They averaged 95.7 points during their winning streak but were held to 34.4 percent shooting in the defeat. DeWanna Bonner had one of the worst games of her career, going 0 for 13 from the field and scoring just four points for Phoenix, which was outrebounded 17-6 on the offensive glass and 48-26 overall. It was outscored 24-9 while shooting 2 of 13 in the fourth quarter. "Every shot they missed, they got the ball back 46 percent of the time," coach Corey Gaines told the team's official website. "It just killed us. We can't have that. Even with the bad shooting we were up in the game. You don't have to score when you get the ball but you can't give them the ball back when you get those rebounds." Diana Taurasi continued her hot stretch, though, scoring 28 points. She's averaging 27.6 during her run of five-straight 20-point games, and the five-time All-Star leads the league in scoring at 23.7 points per game. "When it's clicking, it's clicking," Taurasi said. "There were stretches where we were doing really well. We were up going in the fourth and then they turned it up. It's a good lesson for us." Taurasi missed both of last season's meetings due to injury with Washington (4-2), which had its three-game winning streak snapped with a 96-86 overtime loss to Seattle on Tuesday. The Mystics had allowed an average of 67.3 points during their winning streak. They allowed 47 in the first half but clawed back into the game in the second to get to overtime. ''I thought we gave ourselves a chance to win by getting back into the game with our defense,'' coach Mike Thibault said. ''But then we made crucial mistakes and they took advantage of it. We have only ourselves to blame for that.'' Crystal Langhorne scored a season-high 23 points, but Ivory Latta finished with only nine and six assists. Latta attempted a season-low seven shots after averaging 13.6 attempts and 19.8 points over her first five games. Latta seemingly has a solid chance to bounce back, as Phoenix is allowing a league-worst 86.7 points per game. The Mercury and Mystics split last season's meetings, and Langhorne scored 22 points to help Washington snap Phoenix's three-game winning streak in the series with a 90-77 win July 1. Charde Houston scored 26 points and Bonner added 19 in that contest for the Mercury.