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Sky-Mercury Preview

Jul 8, 2009 - 6:15 AM By ALAN FERGUSON STATS Writer

Chicago (6-4) at Phoenix (8-4), 10:00 p.m. EDT

In her first game since receiving a citation for drunken driving, Diana Taurasi put aside the incident to help the Phoenix Mercury take sole possession of first place in the Western Conference.

Taurasi will try to put the Mercury alone in first again and keep them unbeaten against the Chicago Sky on Wednesday night at the US Airways Center.

Taurasi, the top vote-getter for the July 25 All-Star game, was stopped for speeding early Thursday morning after scoring 22 points in a 93-81 win over Seattle on Wednesday night. After smelling alcohol, the officer gave the three-time All-Star and 2004 rookie of the year several field sobriety tests before citing and releasing her.

She gave a blood sample in a mobile DUI van but authorities did not know her blood alcohol content.

After the next day's practice, Taurasi said the episode was "just something that's embarrassing and unfortunate for my family and the organization."

On Sunday, she had 20 points and a season-high six assists along with five rebounds and three blocks in a 104-89 victory over Los Angeles. The win pushed Phoenix (8-4) past Minnesota in the West before the Lynx drew even again Tuesday night with an overtime victory against Washington.

Cappie Pondexter paced the Mercury with 21 points and reached 2,000 points, 400 rebounds and 400 assists in her 107th career game, second fastest behind Taurasi's 104.

Taurasi is second in the league with 21.1 points per game, and Pondexter has moved into third at 20.6. Pondexter averaged 21.5 points, 51.6 percent shooting, 7.5 rebounds and 6.0 assists in consecutive victories last week to earn co-WNBA player of the week honors.

Phoenix is one victory shy of matching its season-high three-game win streak of June 13-19, and will be looking to improve to 7-0 against the Sky (6-5).

Chicago is seeking the best 12-game start franchise history, but the Sky are 1-5 away from home this season.

The Sky are also expected to play a third straight game without WNBA rebounding leader Sylvia Fowles, who is out with soreness in her right knee.

Without Fowles' 9.0 boards and 12.7 points per game, Chicago fell behind early in the first quarter and couldn't recover in an 83-73 loss at Sacramento on Tuesday.

Jia Perkins scored 12 of her team-leading 21 points in the third quarter for the Sky, who cut the deficit to four in the final period before the Monarchs pulled away.

Perkins also led Chicago with six assists and five rebounds, and Candice Dupree added 18 points on 9-of-12 shooting.

"This year, we're really struggling on the road," Dupree said. "Somehow we've got to find a way to start the game better and not get behind by so much so early."

The Sky, making the fourth trip to Phoenix in team history, nearly snapped their winless skid to the Mercury in the teams' last meeting at US Airways Center on June 20, 2008.

Perkins scored 30 points and Dupree added 28, but Taurasi had 33 points and Pondexter contributed 31 in Chicago's 112-105 overtime loss. Phoenix set a single-game franchise scoring record.