|Griner to return to lineup as Mercury host Strom|
Brittney Griner will be back in the Phoenix lineup on Saturday as the Mercury host the Seattle Storm, who just fired their head coach.
Griner missed the last eight games after sustaining a bone bruise in her left knee in addition to a right ankle sprain in a July 14 loss to the Minnesota Lynx. Griner leads the WNBA in scoring (22.3 points) and blocks (2.5) per game.
The Storm (10-16), meanwhile, have lost four in a row and fired coach Jenny Boucek on Thursday, ending her two-plus-year tenure with Seattle.
"I believe new leadership is needed at this time to give our team the best chance at short and long term success," Storm president and general manager Alisha Valavanis said in a statement. "I am grateful for the passion and commitment Jenny has demonstrated throughout her time with the Seattle Storm. She has been an important part of our organization and we wish her well in the next steps of her career."
Gary Kloppenburg, a former head coach in Tulsa, was named interim coach and will be on the sidelines for the Storm on Saturday.
The Mercury (14-12) went 3-5 in Griner's absence, but are coming off an uplifting overtime road win over the Dallas Wings. They have a chance to climb up the standings with a strong finish to the regular season.
Monique Currie scored 29 points, and the Mercury came up with a last-second defensive stop to nip the Wings 101-100 on Thursday night.
"At this point, we just needed to come in and win a game," Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi told ESPN after the game. "Sometimes, no matter how much you play basketball you lose a little bit of confidence, a little bit of will, and it shows in these the games. Today, it could have went the other way, but we found a way to win, which shows a lot about this team the coaching staff."
Taurasi and Griner combined for 50 points, 25 each, when the Mercury won at Seattle 85-82 on June 23. Phoenix has won eight of the last 10 meetings with the Storm.