Basketball News: With a 106-79 thumping of the host New York Liberty on Wednesday night, the Phoenix Mercury took control early and held off a late charge to extend their winning streak to five games.
Brittney Griner, the star centre, finished with 26 points and nine rebounds before hurting her ankle late in the game.
With 1:38 remaining, the seven-time All-Star was injured while defending a shot by New York’s DiDi Richards. Richards missed the shot, and while battling for the rebound, Griner was injured and fell on Richards’ foot.
Griner was taken to the locker room by two teammates after lying down for a few minutes.
The injury to the 2019 scoring champion spoiled an otherwise strong performance by Phoenix (14-10), which won its ninth game in a row by scoring 17 points in the final four minutes.
Griner shot 11 of 17 from the field for the Mercury, who finished with a 56.6 per cent total shooting percentage. Skylar Diggins-Smith of Phoenix, who had a fantastic 25-point effort on Saturday, now leads all scorers with 27 points after making 10 of 16 shots, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range.
For the Mercury, Diana Taurasi had 21 points and nine assists.
The Liberty (11-15) fell for the fourth time in five games since the Olympic break, despite 20 points from Betnijah Laney and 14 points from Richards.
Rebecca Allen (12 points), Sabrina Ionescu (10) and Natasha Howard (seven points) were a combined 9 of 40 from the field for New York, which shot 37.8% overall and missed 23 of 36 3-point attempts.
Despite this, the Knicks closed the third quarter on an 18-6 run to cut the deficit to 82-69. With 4:43 left in the game, they were within 89-79 after a jumper by Laney, but Phoenix pushed ahead again.
After a scorching start in the first quarter, Diggins-Smith scored 12 points and partnered with Griner to shoot 8 of 8 from the field as the Mercury made 15 of 20 shots, including all 13 attempts inside the 3-point line, to take a 35-19 lead.
On a jumper by Laney with 8:13 remaining, New York scored the first seven points of the second quarter to pull within 35-26.
On Griner’s reverse layup with 3:34 left, Phoenix took a 48-33 lead, but Howard’s 3-pointer with 2:30 left made it 48-38, and the Mercury led 55-42 at halftime.
As a result of the Liberty’s loss, the second-placed Las Vegas Aces (17-7) clinched a playoff berth.
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