Brittney Griner leaving the game late with an ankle injury, which the Mercury hope won’t be too serious, had a sobering effect on Phoenix’s 106-79 victory over the New York Liberty on Wednesday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. Griner had 26 points, nine rebounds and six assists in the win, while Skylar Diggins-Smith (27 points, five assists) and Diana Taurasi (21 points, nine assists) were also phenomenal. Brianna Turner added 10 points, 15 boards and two blocks to the winning cause.
With 3:50 to go in the first quarter, Griner got behind the Liberty defense, caught a long pass from Taurasi and threw down a dunk while on the run. The slam made the score 21-10 Mercury and Phoenix would go on to lead by as much as 21 in the frame.
OMG @brittneygriner threw that thanggg down— WNBA (@WNBA) August 25, 2021
NBA TV pic.twitter.com/1QxgwBLcFY
With 5:16 left in the fourth, New York’s Rebecca Allen made a triple that cut it to 12 and Natasha Howard followed it up by poking the ball away on a bad pass from Diggins-Smith to Griner in the post. DiDi Richards picked up the loose ball and the Liberty were about to have a 3-on-1 in transition before Diggins-Smith wisely fouled Richards to kill New York’s momentum. Betnijah Laney would still rattle one home from mid-range for the Liberty on the ensuing possession to cut it to 89-79, but the Mercury ended the contest on an impressive 17-0 run to avoid major disappointment.
The win was Phoenix’s fifth in a row as it trails only the first-place Connecticut Sun (six wins in a row) for the longest current win streak in the WNBA. The Mercury (14-10) ended the first part of the season with an 82-75 loss to the third-place Seattle Storm, but are undefeated since returning from the Olympic break. The Liberty are the best team they’ve defeated during the stretch.
The Mercury are currently in fifth place, two games ahead of the sixth-place Chicago Sky and just one game behind the fourth-place Minnesota Lynx, who are two games worse than the Mercury since the break.
Laney finished with 20 points, eight rebounds and five helpers in defeat. Phoenix outscored New York 54-20 in the paint and shot 56.6 percent from the field. The Liberty made one more 3-pointer than the Mercury, but Phoenix was 12-of-25 (48 percent) compared to New York’s 36.1 percent effort.
The Liberty fell to 11-15 and are now in a three-way tie for seventh place with the Dallas Wings and Los Angeles Sparks. They have the tiebreaker over Dallas and LA, so they remain in playoff position but are cutting it close.
New York was without Sami Whitcomb in this game. The league’s most prolific 3-point shooter is out 10 to 14 days with an ankle injury.
The two teams will meet again in what will be the next game for both on Friday at 8 p.m. ET at Barclays (CBS Sports Network).
The Liberty loss resulted in the Las Vegas Aces clinching the playoffs.
WE in New York baby, I mean we at Barclay's this is LIT - @SkyDigg4— WNBA (@WNBA) August 26, 2021
Hear from Skylar after dropping 27 PTS, 3 REB and 5 AST pic.twitter.com/7jOs21yZdm