Diggins-Smith outshines Bird, Taurasi; Mercury beats Storm
PHOENIX (AP) — Skylar Diggins-Smith scored a career-high 35 points, Diana Taurasi hit 6 of 10 from 3-point range and finished with 28 points and the Phoenix Mercury used a dominant fourth quarter to beat the Seattle Storm 94-78 Friday night.
Sophie Cunningham hit five 3-pointers — her 10th consecutive game with at least two made 3s — and scored 19 points for Phoenix. The Mercury made a season-high 14 3s.
The Mercury went into the fourth quarter trailing 65-60 but Taurasi hit a 3 to open the period and her three-point play with 7:35 to play gave Phoenix a one-point lead. Tina Charles scored to give Seattle a 69-68 lead 25 seconds later but Diggins-Smith hit a jumper with 6:55 left that sparked a 17-0 run.
The game was 46th, and potentially the last, meeting between Taurasi and Seattle’s Sue Bird, the WNBA’s all-time leaders in points and assists, respectively and gave Taurasi 500 career games, second-most in league history — behind Bird.
Bird — who has announced that she’ll retire at the end of the season — and Taurasi (who will become a free agent) played together at UConn before being picked No. 1 overall in the 2002 (Bird) and 2004 (Taurasi) drafts, won seven combined WNBA titles and won five Olympic gold medals together.
Phoenix (12-16) swept the three-game regular-season series with the Storm 3-0 and, with 10 regular season games remaining, moved into a virtual tie with Dallas for the eighth and final playoff spot.
The Mercury set a regular-season record Friday with a reported attendance of 14,162.
Breanna Stewart lead Seattle (17-10) with 22 points and 14 rebounds but did most of her damage in the first half. Jewell Loyd added 15 points and Tina Charles added 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Taurasi has hit at least six 3-pointers in a single game 12 times since turning age 35, a WNBA record.
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