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Taurasi struggles — but Phoenix’s bench steps up to end drought

Lately, Diana Taurasi has been on a tear since Brittney Griner has been out with a couple injuries. Friday night the Mercury ended its losing streak and it wasn’t Taurasi who rescued the team.

Barry Gossage- NBAE/Getty Images

Rosemont, IL -- With just over four minutes left in the third quarter of the game between the Phoenix Mercury and Chicago Sky Friday at Allstate Arena, the Sky’s Stefanie Dolson rolled down the right side of the lane, a look that was available all night for the Sky, and had her shot blocked by Mercury guard Leilani Mitchell.

Dolson hovers at 6’5”. Mitchell is a whole foot shorter.

Dolson was visibly surprised, even cracking a smile as she ran back on defense. It was the kind of almost inexplicable play that exemplified the teeter-tottering and wackiness between the two teams Friday.

In a game that lacked flow, the Mercury were ultimately victorious, edging the Sky 86-80. The win was much-needed after Phoenix had lost four of its last five games.

Some things went as expected.

After an impressive showing and win at the WNBA 3-Point Contest, Allie Quigley continued her offensive onslaught, pouring in 19 points and shooting 4-8 from behind the arc. Dolson led all scorers with 29 points.

Camille Little led the Mercury in scoring with 19 points but again, somewhat inexplicably, Diana Taurasi, who’s been averaging 32.5 points since Brittney Griner went out with injury on July 14, had just nine points.

Any time the WNBA’s all-time leading scorer is held to single digits would be a dream scenario for the opponent, but tonight it was just the opposite.

“I made a comment before the game that even if Taurasi is contained offensively we can’t have three other people on their team have prolific scoring nights,” Sky coach Amber Stocks said after the game.

Stocks’ word of caution came to fruition. The Phoenix bench outscored the Sky’s 43-6 behind Monique Currie’s 18 points and Cayla George’s 14.

Another large disparity came from the free throw line. While the Mercury shot 33 in the game, the Sky shot just eight.

“It’s going to be very challenging to be in a position to win a game when there’s that significant of a disparity between free throws,” Stocks said.

The Chicago coach pointed out that her team is getting to the paint, Dolson’s play tonight was evident of that, but Stocks said she’d like to see her team finish with more power rather than finesse.

“That will impact the way the officials are observing the contact,” Stocks said.

Still though, in the month of July, the Chicago Sky have gone 5-3, a vast improvement from June’s 2-7 effort. After the game, Dolson expressed her desire for her team to play with more balance down the stretch.

“We’ve got to do a better job staying more consistent throughout the whole game, especially finishing games like tonight,” Dolson said.

Chicago will have that opportunity quickly as they take on the New York Liberty at home this Sunday. It’s a quick turnaround for the Mercury as well, they’ll head back West and play San Antonio to finish the weekend.