Mercury-Liberty Preview

With Diana Taurasi back on the court, the Phoenix Mercury need to rebound from a rough week while trying to remain in playoff position.

Taurasi and the Mercury look to avoid matching a season high with their third straight defeat Tuesday night against the host New York Liberty.

Playing in just her second game of 2019 -- and first since July 12 -- Taurasi finished with 12 points on 2-of-13 shooting and missed all six of her 3-point attempts while also recording four assists and four rebounds in 22 minutes of Sunday's 94-86 home loss to Chicago.

"It feels good to be back on the court," Taurasi, who has been bothered by a hamstring issue, told azcentral.com. "Would have liked a different result. It's all a process, and I'm still in it. Through that process, we have to put the best five out there to be able to win (Sunday's) game and the next six. I'm just trying to fit back in and do my best."

Though Phoenix (13-15) has lost two in a row and seven of 10, it holds a 3 1/2-game lead over Indiana for the final playoff spot. Though that would seem a safe cushion, the Mercury are about to play their next three games on the road before finishing up with three at home. Phoenix is just 4-10 away from home and looking to snap a four-game road slide.

"(There are) a lot of things we have to tighten up if we want to make this last push," Taurasi said.

Phoenix's most recent victory came over the Liberty, 78-72 at home on Aug. 18. DeWanna Bonner scored 17 of her 30 points in the fourth quarter and also pulled down 10 rebounds while fellow star Brittney Griner served the last of her three-game suspension.

Griner, who scored 34 against the Sky over the weekend, has averaged 24.8 points over her last five games. She scored 30 in an 80-76 home loss to New York on July 5.

Losers in 13 of 15, the Liberty (9-20) are on the verge of missing the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time since 2013 and '14. Kia Nurse hit six 3-pointers and finished with 24 points on Sunday at Washington, but New York was outscored 31-14 in the first quarter en route to the 101-72 defeat.

It was the second time in three games that Nurse has reached the 20-point mark. She scored 26 at Phoenix in July, but was held to nine while missing five of her six 3-point attempts against the Mercury earlier this month.
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