|Griner back for Mercury"s rematch at Sun|
It was just two weeks ago that the Connecticut Sun edged the visiting Phoenix Mercury despite 33 points by returning hometown hero Diana Taurasi.
Center Brittney Griner didn't play for the Mercury in that game.
She is back now, having played two games since returning from injury and has combined with Taurasi to lead the Mercury into the Mohegan Sun Arena for a quick rematch Sunday in Uncasville, Conn.
Griner, who missed eight games with knee and ankle injuries, returned with 19 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots in 21 minutes in a home loss to the Seattle Storm. Then, she had 13 points and 10 rebounds and Taurasi scored 14 of her 25 points in the fourth quarter as the Mercury opened a three-game road trip with a win at Washington.
Taurasi, who had the big night against the Sun in her recent visit, registered her 200th 20-point game at Washington as the Mercury (15-13) moved closer to clinching a playoff spot. Currently sixth in the overall standings, their magic number to clinch dropped to three with the win in Washington.
The Sun (18-10), who have already clinched their first playoff berth since 2012, had a pair of winning streaks snapped in Friday night's home loss to the surging New York Liberty. That ended Connecticut's six-game overall winning streak and its run of eight wins in a row in Uncasville.
"We're disappointed, but that game is so good for us," said Sun coach Curt Miller. "I can't begin to tell you how good that game is going to be for us in the long run. Tonight's game took on a playoff feel and the physicality that we knew was going to be in this game and the intensity from each and every possession was the best simulation we could possibly have for a playoff game.
"For our young team to understand the grind that the playoffs are going to be and not the 100-point games that you sometimes get during the regular season, tonight's game is going to go a long, long way for us."
Six Sun players reached double figures in the Aug. 4 win over the Mercury.
The teams meet again, in Arizona on Sept. 1, as the Sun close out the regular season with a trip to Phoenix and Los Angeles.
Jonquel Jones, the league's leading rebounder (11.6), who will be matched up with Griner in the paint Sunday, saw her run of double-doubles end at seven Friday. Foul trouble limited the reigning Eastern Conference player of the week to 11 points and nine rebounds in 23-plus minutes. Jasmine Thomas cleared the 2,000-point mark in the loss.
The Sun, leading the league in scoring, went just 4 of 21 from 3-point range and 18 of 28 from the foul line in losing for a second straight time to the Liberty.
Griner, who leads the league in scoring (21.7) and is eighth in rebounding (8.2), had her sixth double-double of the season at Washington.