Sun-Mercury Preview

TOM CASTRO (STATS Senior Editor)

The Phoenix Mercury will have had seven days off to ponder their second loss in three games. Their interim coach has certainly been thinking about it.

The Mercury look to bounce back after their extended break and put an end to their recent sloppy play when they host the WNBA-worst Connecticut Sun on Saturday night.

Phoenix (14-13) committed 16 turnovers in an 81-73 home defeat to Seattle last Friday, the same number it had in an 88-82 loss to San Antonio on Aug. 17.

Against the Storm, the club had five giveaways in the first quarter, when it made eight of its first nine shots. Seattle scored 19 points off turnovers overall.

The Mercury are struggling to hold off the surging Storm for the third seed in the Western Conference, leading them by percentage points.

"The thing that bothers me is that it's the little things right now that's keeping this Phoenix Mercury team from being great," interim coach Russ Pennell said after Phoenix fell to 4-2 under him.

"(We're) very talented, have a lot of positives, but it's the little things that are killing us right now. We're not boxing out, we're turning the ball over at an alarming rate."

Top overall draft pick Brittney Griner, in particular, has drawn Pennell's ire.

"She's going to have to start doing some things we ask and she's going to have to start paying attention to detail and I think she will," he said. "She wants to do it. ... I'm not calling out Brittney here in front of the press, but frankly, she does need to improve and this is not anything I haven't told her."

The 6-foot-8 Griner leads the league with 2.8 blocks per game but has only five over the last four games. She had 12 points and five rebounds against the Storm but committed five turnovers.

Diana Taurasi also struggled, scoring 16 points - more than five below her average - and going 4 of 13 from the field with seven assists as Seattle hounded her defensively.

"They made it hard for us to do anything on the offensive end," Taurasi said.

The Sun (7-21) haven't done that to opponents much lately, allowing 86 or more points in five of their last seven games. Connecticut didn't give up that many Thursday but didn't score much, either, falling 78-65 to the Storm for its sixth straight loss.

The defending Eastern Conference regular season champions cut a 17-point halftime deficit to nine after three periods but couldn't get any closer.

"We got into a hole and when we get into a hole we have to at least make shots," center Tina Charles said. "We weren't making shots so the hole just kept getting bigger and bigger."

The Sun made 37.7 percent from the field and allowed Seattle to make 48.9.

Phoenix won the first meeting of the season 89-70 on June 29. Charles scored a game-high 25 but only one other Sun player was in double figures, and Connecticut shot 26.9 percent to the Mercury's 47.0.

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