Hot Mercury visit Liberty seeking fifth straight win

National Sports

Since returning from Tokyo with a gold medal, Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith has produced a pair of sterling efforts for the streaking Mercury heading into Wednesday’s visit to the New York Liberty.

The Mercury (13-10) are averaging 84.3 points during their four-game win streak and are 8-3 since dropping four straight June 8-16.

Diggins-Smith has scored 42 points over the past two games after being limited to one minute on Aug. 17 against Indiana due to a sprained ankle. She has scored in double digits in every game this season except for that game against the Fever.

On Saturday, she scored 11 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter and led a 21-4 run that lifted Phoenix to an 84-69 victory over the Atlanta Dream.

Diggins-Smith added seven assists in a game where Phoenix shot 52.6 percent and hit 9 of 19 3-pointers. Diana Taurasi added 18 points and also surpassed 2,000 career assists, while Brittney Griner contributed 13 points and 12 rebounds.

“I’m just working off my team,” Diggins-Smith said. “We all sense who has the hot hand or who’s trying to get it going. We just feed off each other. Diana’s going to get a double, I’m going to get a double, (Griner) is going to get a double, but that leaves room for everybody else to create off close-outs.”

New York (11-14) has dropped three of four since the league returned to play from the Olympic break. The Liberty have scored exactly 83 points in each of the past three games but are also allowing 88 points per game in the past four contests.

On Sunday, the Liberty absorbed an 86-83 home loss to the Los Angeles Sparks in which they were outscored 20-11 in the fourth quarter. New York made 16 3-pointers but also committed nine of its 22 turnovers in the fourth quarter, prompting coach Walt Hopkins to say his team did not “trust each other.”

“Trust comes in so many ways,” New York’s Rebecca Allen said. “If we look at the game, I think there’s moments where we need to step up, especially that fourth quarter where we take the game and make it out.

“I think there’s just moments where we have to be stronger. That’s mentally, that’s physically.”

Natasha Howard had 17 points and 11 rebounds and Sami Whitcomb scored 17 points with five 3-pointers. Whitcomb, who leads the WNBA with 69 3-pointers, also sprained her left ankle in the final minutes when she stepped on the foot of Los Angeles guard Erica Wheeler and will miss 10-14 days with the injury, New York announced.

–Field Level Media

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