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Second quarter run leads Phoenix Mercury to 15-point win over Storm

Mercury forward Candice Dupree looks for an opening versus the Storm Tuesday.
Mercury forward Candice Dupree looks for an opening versus the Storm Tuesday.
Scott Mammoser

Diana Taurasi scored 20, plus 19 each from Candice Dupree and Brittney Griner powered the Phoenix Mercury to an 87-72 win over the Seattle Storm Tuesday at US Airways Center, despite Crystal Langhorne’s 27.

The Mercury improved to 4-1 and nearly replicated the 17-point margin in its opening-night win over Seattle (2-6).

“We had a lot of ball-player movement, and whoever’s open shoots it,” Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said. “It’s not just one person trying to force that action, and that’s always a key for us, everyone just comes on, you have to be a key part of the whole offense.”

Griner and Dupree not only mirrored each other in points, but each grabbed eight rebounds, dished four assists, and blocked two shots. The 19 points matched the season-high Griner scored in the 81-64 win on May 17, while Dupree bested the 18 points she had at the Sparks May 18.

“Seattle’s always s tough opponent for us, but we’ve already beaten them twice this year,” Dupree said. “They take you out of your offense and play very good defense, at times we did a great job of not letting that happen, but they’re aggressive because they don’t let you go where you want to go, they’re tough.”

After a 28-28 tie midway through the second, the Mercury went on a 12-3 run, with six coming from Griner, of which the Storm never recovered. Taurasi converted a traditional three-point play in the final second of the half to give her team a 43-34 lead.

“Our toughness is something we really like right now,” Taurasi said. “You can feel that a lot of people did a lot today in a lot of different areas, and you can come back into the locker room and feel good about it.”

Taurasi added eight in the third as Phoenix took a 65-57 lead, while Langhorne scored 10. The Storm acquired the two-time All-Star from the Mystics over the offseason, and she was averaging 13 points per game until Tuesday.

“She’s doing well for us and making good decisions with the ball,” Storm coach Brian Agler said of Langhorne.

Langhorne, who also grabbed eight rebounds, was limited to nine points in the May 17 game and surpassed the 20-point plateau for the third-straight match.

Camille Little added 14 points for the Storm, Shekinna Stricklen scored 13, and Tanisha Wright tied Taurasi with a game-high seven assists.

The play of the game resulted in Seattle’s first basket, early on, as Bird stole Taurasi’s pass, the ball went about 20 feet in the air, Bird took possession, led a fast break underneath the hoop and assisted backwards to Alysha Clark.

The Mercury now embarks on a five-game road trip that begins Friday in Tulsa, before games at San Antonio, Washington, Connecticut, and Minnesota. The undefeated defending champion Lynx (7-0) will be at Phoenix at 7 p.m. June 18. Seattle’s next game is versus the Lynx Friday at Key Arena.

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