The Phoenix Mercury, coming off an 83-65 road loss to the Washington Mystics on Tuesday, will attempt to rebound when they face the Indiana Fever on Wednesday in Indianapolis.
Phoenix (5-9) saw its three-game winning streak end. That surge came immediately after the Mercury lost seven in a row.
In Washington, the Mercury turned the ball over 16 times, missed nine of 16 free-throw attempts and shot just 38.7 percent from the field overall and 38.5 percent from 3-point range. No Phoenix player finished with a positive plus-minus rating, though Diamond DeShields scored a game-high 21 points.
The defeat came just hours after the announcement that the Mercury’s superstar center, Brittney Griner, had her detention in Russia extended. Officials from the U.S. State Department met with Griner’s teammates earlier this week.
“There is a lot involved in getting her back home and safe, they’re working relentlessly,” Mercury guard Diana Taurasi said. “We’re here to do whatever we can to amplify and keep BG at the forefront, which is more important than any basketball game and anything else that’s going on in our lives. We want BG to come home as soon as possible, it’s number one on our list.”
The Fever (4-12) snapped a five-game slide in their most recent game, beating the Minnesota Lynx 84-80 on Sunday in Minneapolis. Indiana was led by No. 2 overall pick NaLyssa Smith, who had 21 points and 14 rebounds for her third double-double of her rookie season.
Smith has been a bright spot for Indiana this season, as the club has already had a midseason coaching change, going from Marianne Stanley to Carlos Knox. Amid the ups and downs, Smith is averaging 13.7 points and 8.3 rebounds per game.
Kelsey Mitchell has played well, too, and the fifth-year pro could be in line to make her first All-Star Game. She leads the Fever in scoring at 18.8 points per game. She is the only Indiana player who has started all 16 games this season.
“I just talk to her about being the best player that she can be,” Knox told The Next recently when asked about Mitchell’s All-Star campaign. “Make sure that she’s just the complete player that she needs to be undeniable.”
–Field Level Media