The Phoenix Mercury used a strong second half Tuesday night to improve to 2-0 out of the Olympic break.
The Washington Mystics have had back-to-back poor second halves in losing their first two games since the break.
The surging Mercury (11-10) have won four of five as they prepare to host the sliding Mystics (8-12) on Thursday night.
Phoenix trailed the Indiana Fever 39-35 at halftime Tuesday, but Brittney Griner and Diana Taurasi took over in the second half of what turned into an 84-80 home win for the Mercury.
“Offensively we were poor (in the first half),” said Taurasi, who scored 14 of her 22 points in the fourth quarter. “That was putting us in a predicament on the way back in transition defense. We weren’t rebounding well. They were getting kick-out threes. Basically everything we wanted to do, we just found ourselves not being able to get it done.”
Phoenix overcame the first-quarter loss of Skylar Diggins-Smith to an ankle injury. She didn’t return, but is considered day to day.
The Las Vegas Aces rallied in the second half in victories against the visiting Mystics on Sunday and Tuesday. After blowing a 21-point lead Sunday, Washington held an eight-point halftime lead Tuesday, but got outscored 52-34 in the second half of a 93-83 loss.
“If I knew the answer, (we) would fix it,” Ariel Atkins said of the Mystics’ second-half problems. “We look like a championship team in the first half and then coming out in the second half, we just don’t have the same energy or grit to us.”
Tina Charles had 30 points and 10 rebounds, but Washington still slipped to ninth place with a month left in the season.
“You don’t really get the opportunity to just be like, ‘Oh, we’ll fix the next game; oh, we’ll fix the next game; oh, we’ll fix the next game,’ ” Atkins said. “Before you know it, the season’s over and you don’t have a playoff spot.”
–Field Level Media