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Recaps: Diana Taurasi passes 9,000 career points with 25 in return

Diana Taurasi reached 9,000 points in impressive fashion in her first game back from injury as the Phoenix Mercury defeated the Los Angeles Sparks. Plus, the top four teams in the league were in action. The second-place Las Vegas Aces survived the first-place Seattle Storm in overtime and the third-place Connecticut Sun snapped the fourth-place Chicago Sky’s seven-game winning streak.

Los Angeles Sparks v Phoenix Mercury
Diana Taurasi
Photo by Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images

Diana Taurasi returned to the court in style on Sunday at Phoenix Suns Arena with 25 points, including her 9,000th career point, in an 88-79 victory for the Phoenix Mercury over the Los Angeles Sparks.

Taurasi, who had been out a little over a month with a sternum fracture, reached 9,001 points on a layup one minute and 37 seconds into the second quarter. She is the first player in WNBA history to reach 9,000 and is comfortably ahead of Tina Thompson (7,488 career points) for first place on the all-time scoring list.

Taurasi, age 39, had a bounce-back season in the 2020 wubble and had been averaging 15.8 points per game in 2021 before the time she missed. 25 points marked a season-high and was quite a way to return especially with the pressure of potentially reaching 9,000 points. And it came in a win that the Mercury (7-7) desperately needed. The team is still trying to recover from four-straight losses, though it has now won two in a row.

The Mercury had not played since June 18. Taurasi was 9-of-9 from the charity stripe and 4-of-8 from distance.

Brittney Griner continued her MVP campaign for Phoenix with 22 points and eight rebounds. She is currently sixth in the WNBA in scoring (19.8 points per game) and tied for sixth in rebounding (9.9 boards per game).

The Mercury didn’t get much from their bench, but it was quite a game for their starters. Brianna Turner turned in eight points and 15 rebounds, Skylar Diggins-Smith went for 16 points and four assists and Kia Nurse was good for 13 points and six rebounds.

Phoenix won the third 22-12 to take a 14-point lead entering the fourth. The closest LA got in the final frame was within nine, the margin it lost by.

Erica Wheeler led the Sparks with 21 points and added four helpers while Te’a Cooper (20 points) scored 20-plus for the second time in a row after dropping a career-high 26 on June 24. Brittney Sykes played well on both sides of the ball in defeat with 11 points, six boards, four assists and three steals.

Other action

Las Vegas Aces (11-4) over Seattle Storm (12-4), 95-92 (OT)

Chelsea Gray (21 points, seven assists) hit a mid-range shot with 10.6 seconds remaining in overtime that gave Vegas the lead for good. Sue Bird then missed a three, A’ja Wilson (22 points, 11 rebounds) made two free throws and the Storm didn’t have time to get up a legitimate shot after that.

Breanna Stewart had 35 points, 11 boards and three blocks in defeat and missed a catch and shoot in the paint at the buzzer of regulation with Dearica Hamby’s hand in her face.

Seattle led by six with 7:44 to go in regulation on a Stewart three. Vegas then went on a 9-2 run capped by a Kelsey Plum three to give it the lead. Then there were four lead changes over four minutes and 27 seconds. Stewart tied the game at 84 on a layup with 52.7 ticks to go before overtime.

Plum finished with 15 points while Jackie Young and Riquna Williams both had 12. Williams was 4-of-6 from beyond the arc while Plum was 2-of-3. Liz Cambage added nine points and seven rebounds.

This was a huge win for the Aces, who were coming off a loss to the 7-7 Minnesota Lynx and are now only a half a game behind the first-place Storm.

Connecticut Sun (10-5) over Chicago Sky (9-8), 74-58

The Sun ended the Sky’s seven-game winning streak and also ended their streak of seven-straight games with 80-plus points by holding them to a season low. As far as the standings, a Sun loss would have allowed the Sky to tie them for third place. Instead they are now two games ahead of Chicago and just 1.5 games behind the first-place Storm.

DeWanna Bonner (seven rebounds) scored 23 points for Connecticut, which was again without MVP candidate Jonquel Jones, while Brionna Jones added 21 points and nine boards. Jasmine Thomas posted 18 points and Beatrice Mompremier hauled in 11 rebounds.

Kahleah Copper and Allie Quigley both scored 11 points in defeat while Candace Parker was held to just six and Diamond DeShields was held to just two. Courtney Vandersloot did have seven assists, but that was her lowest assist total since June 12. She had averaged 10.6 helpers over the previous five contests.

Connecticut led by eight after one and by six at halftime before winning the third 26-14.