|Mercury starving for win against Fever|
The Phoenix Mercury are close to clinching a playoff berth but are in a world of hurt. The Indiana Fever have the worst record in the WNBA but are feeling good about themselves.
It has been that kind of topsy-turvy season for the WNBA, which has seen its best teams go through difficult stretches, such as what the Mercury are going through now.
With a chance to clinch a sixth consecutive WNBA playoff berth Tuesday night, the Mercury instead suffered their fifth straight home loss, falling to Washington 103-98.
"There's just not enough good things," veteran guard Diana Taurasi said. "In this league, you've got to play well to win. Every team's got good players and a lot of them. If you don't play consistent enough throughout a game and you don't get enough production from people, you end up losing a lot of games like we are right now.
"It's unfortunate because we've got a lot of talent in this room, a lot of fight, but it's not coming out in ways that's helping us win games."
The Mercury, who have not won at home since July 5, are 16-14 and still in need of one win or a Las Vegas loss to advance to the eight-team WNBA playoffs. They have four regular-season games remaining, all at home at Talking Stick Resort Arena, where they are 5-8.
Indiana (5-24) travels to Phoenix after losing 94-79 at home to the WNBA's best team, the Seattle Storm, on Wednesday night.
Despite the loss, the Fever have won three of their last five games.
"It's just human nature seeing some of the things you've worked on all year work at a time of the year for when most people it doesn't," Fever coach Pokey Chatman said. "A true testament to their character buying in and working hard and having pride and wanting to make some progress despite their win-loss record."
The Mercury, meanwhile, are lacking balance with their execution.
Brittney Griner, Taurasi and DeWanna Bonner set a WNBA record with 84 combined points, most by a trio in a non-overtime game, but their teammates only added 14 in the loss to Washington.
"We need more productivity from our bench," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. "Maybe it's me trusting them more too. I just need a little more execution when they're out on the court. It's hard to take out any of the big three, but they still need a rest."
Fever rookie guard Victoria Vivians scored nine points in the first quarter in the loss to Seattle. Vivians had 15 points, all in the first half behind 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range.
The Mercury dominated the Fever in the two previous games, both played in Indianapolis. Phoenix won 95-77 on June 29 and 101-82 on July 15.