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Phoenix Mercury takes over Chicago Sky in second half for sixth-straight win

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Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree reached career milestones with big performances during the Phoenix Mercury’s 87-69 home win over the Chicago Sky (8-9) Wednesday that extended its winning streak to six games and improved its first-place record to 12-3.

Taurasi, the league’s Player of the Month for June, scored 15 and moved past Katie Smith and into second place on the WNBA career scoring list (6,452 points), while Dupree became the 22nd player to surpass the 4,000-point plateau for her career, after scoring a season-high tying 26 to go along with a 2014-best 14 rebounds.

“It’s pretty cool to pass Katie,” said Taurasi, who now trails only Tina Thompson’s 7,488. “She’s one of the greatest to ever touch a basketball in our generation, she put up the points, how great a player she was, that’s pretty special.”

This happens just three days after second-year center Brittney Griner posted a WNBA-record 11 blocks versus Tulsa. Wednesday she had five blocks, 11 rebounds and four points.

“I just wish I can be half the player they are, just to be able to be a part of it and watch and learn from them,” Griner said.

The Mercury pounced onto an early 13-2 lead and held a 19-11 advantage after the first quarter. Epiphanny Prince, scoreless and nearly invisible for the first 15 minutes, drained three three pointers in a two-minute span to cut the once-13-point lead to four, 36-32. Then Sylvia Fowles, playing in just her fourth game of the season, recorded her first basket to narrow the gap to 36-34. After the Mercury found another seven-point lead, Allie Quigley cut it to three, before Taurasi scored one from long distance to put the Mercury up 44-38 at halftime. Phoenix would increase its lead to 67-51 during the third quarter thanks to eight points from Dupree.

“We had to play with a sense of urgency, and we kind of did that in the third quarter, that’s the speed we want to play,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “When we play good defense, it creates offense.”

Penny Taylor also scored 14 for Phoenix, and Anete Jekabsone-Zogota added 10 points, as the Mercury maintained its one-game lead over Minnesota for first place in the Western Conference.

“We just take it one game at a time,” said Mercury forward DeWanna Bonner, who had a game-high six assists. “It’s a long season still, and we just want to brace for the playoffs. We want to continue our rhythm, and hope for something good at the end. The great thing about it is anybody can score on any given night, we’re unselfish.”

Quigley ended up leading the Sky in scoring with 16 off the bench, and Prince and Jamierra Faulkner – the 5-foot-6 rookie from Southern Mississippi- each scored 11. Fowles led Chicago with seven rebounds, as it is without injured Elena Delle Donne and Courtney Vandersloot.

The Mercury made 24 trips to the free throw line and made 20, while the Sky was only 5-of-8.

The Mercury is at Los Angeles at 1 p.m. Sunday, which will be televised on ESPN2, and it will be back home to face the Seattle Storm at 12:30 p.m. July 9. The Sky’s next game is at Seattle Saturday.

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