The Phoenix Mercury seem poised for a strong stretch run after an injury-plagued start to the season.
They host the Indiana Fever on Tuesday, two days after a 92-81 home win against Atlanta.
Sophie Cunningham played for the first time since suffering a concussion July 9 and Diana Taurasi played in her first Mercury game since July 3, though she started all six games for the U.S. gold medal-winning team at the Tokyo Olympics.
“We should be doing better than what our record shows,” Cunningham said. “It was refreshing for the Olympians getting a new place to play and new teammates. Over here, we were working our tails [off], and we came back all refreshed and ready to go. We know what we need to get done for the rest of the season, and we really are in a good spot.”
Taurasi scored 18 points versus Atlanta and Olympic teammates Skylar Diggins-Smith and Brittney Griner scored 19 and 14 points, respectively. Cunningham scored 17 and Brianna Turner had 10 for Phoenix (10-10).
The Fever (4-17) entered the Olympic break after their best stretch of the season, a three-game winning streak. But they lost their first game after returning, falling 75-70 to the Sparks in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Indiana, which allowed fewer than 70 points in wins against Connecticut, New York and Atlanta, regained its defensive form after falling behind 49-46 at halftime.
“We’re not going to outscore people,” said Tiffany Mitchell, who scored 12 points. “We’re going to have to lock down and get stops. That’s what we realized in the second half. We’re not going to win the game giving up 100 points.”
The Fever shot 33 percent from the floor and 22 percent on 3-pointers (4 of 18).
“We competed and gave ourselves a chance,” Fever coach Marianne Stanley said. “We’re going to battle. We’re going to fight people. Our record doesn’t indicate what kind of team we are, and I think we just proved that again.”
–Field Level Media