Liberty-Mercury Preview

Despite being short on players at the moment, the Phoenix Mercury continue to fight.

In their final game before getting star Brittney Griner back from suspension, the Mercury look to win back-to-back games for the first time in almost a month Sunday, when they host a New York Liberty club looking to avoid an eighth straight defeat.

DeWanna Bonner had 27 points with 14 rebounds as Phoenix (12-13) used an 18-4 second-half run to beat the Atlanta Dream 77-68 on Friday, and snap a three-game losing streak. It was the second of a three-game suspension Griner (19.4 points per game, 7.0 rebounds per game) was serving for her involvement in last weekend's fight with Dallas.

More so, it can be an important confidence boost for a club that owns the eighth and final playoff spot despite having its other injured star, Diana Taurasi on the floor for just one game. Veterans Essence Carson (calf) and Sancho Lyttle (knee), and rookie Alanna Smith (ankle) are also dealing win injuries for Phoenix, which last won consecutive contests during a three-game run from July 17-23.

"I'm really happy. I thought we competed for the whole game" coach Sandy Brondello said via the Mercury's official Facebook page after Friday's game.

"Everyone did a fantastic job. We know we're short-handed but our (starting) five was amazing."

Bonner (18.3 ppg, 7.6 rpg) reached 20 points for the first time in five games and became the first player in Mercury history to collect at least 2,000 career rebounds. She had just nine points on 3-of-13 shooting and four boards in Phoenix's 80-76 home loss to New York on July 5.

Since that victory, however, the Liberty (8-17) are 1-10, mired in their longest losing streak of 2019 and spiraling out of playoff contention. It's also starting to look disappointingly familiar to last season, when New York lost its final 13 games.

Friday's 83-77 loss at Dallas was the Liberty's sixth straight on the road, and probably a game they should have won. Tina Charles had 25 points and New York led by two with 1:43 to play in the game, but was outscored 12-4 the rest of the way.

Charles (17.3 ppg, 7.5 rpg), who moved into the top five all-time in rebounding and 11th on the league's career scoring list on Friday, had 23 with 12 rebounds in the win at Phoenix last month. Teammate Kia Nurse (14.2 ppg) scored 26 in that contest.
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