WNBA: Diana Taurasi makes history, leads Mercury over Sparks

Field Level Media/Reuters

Posted at Jun 28 2021 10:02 AM

WNBA: Diana Taurasi makes history, leads Mercury over Sparks 1
Diana Taurasi (3) of the Phoenix Mercury during the game against the Minnesota Lynx on September 17, 2020 at Feld Entertainment Center in Palmetto, Florida. File photo. Ned Dishman, NBAE via Getty Images/AFP.

Diana Taurasi returned from a nine-game absence to score a game-high 25 points and make WNBA history as the host Phoenix Mercury defeated the Los Angeles Sparks 88-79 on Sunday.

Taurasi, who hadn't played since May 21 because of a fractured sternum, became the first WNBA player to score 9,000 career points. Brittney Griner added 22 points and eight rebounds, Skyler Diggins-Smith scored 16 and Kia Nurse 13 for the Mercury (7-7).

Phoenix had lost four in a row before defeating the host Sparks 80-66 in their last game on June 18.

Erica Wheeler scored 21 points, Te'a Cooper, who came off the bench to score a career-high 26 points in a win against Washington on Thursday, added 20, Brittney Sykes had 11 and Amanda Zahui B. 10 for the short-handed Sparks (6-8), who used just eight players in the absence of injured Bria Holmes along with Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike.

Wheeler scored the first four points of the third quarter to tie the score at 47, but her teammates added just two points during the first six minutes of the period.

Brianna Turner, who finished with a game-high 15 rebounds, Taurasi and Diggins-Smith each had a basket and an assist during a 13-2 run that gave the Mercury a 60-49 lead.

L.A. got within eight points, but Taurasi completed the third-quarter scoring with a pair of 3-pointers that gave Phoenix a 69-55 lead.

Diggins-Smith's three-point play gave the Mercury a commanding 78-59 lead.

The score was tied seven times and the lead changed hands three time before Cooper beat the buzzer with a jumper that gave L.A. a 26-24 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Taurasi surpassed the 9,000-point mark when she converted a three-point play that tied the score at 29 with 8:23 left in the second quarter.

The score was tied again at 34 and 40 before Taurasi had an assist and made a pair of free throws during a 7-0 Phoenix run.

Zahui B. made a 3-pointer that pulled the Sparks within 47-43 at halftime.