for this game

Mystics-Mercury Preview

Jun 30, 2010 - 5:18 PM By MIKE LIPKA STATS Writer

Washington (10-5) at Phoenix (5-10), 10:00 p.m. EDT

The Phoenix Mercury's early defense of their WNBA title was already going poorly. Now, it's unclear how long it will have to continue without the reigning league MVP.

Diana Taurasi may not be in action as the host Mercury try to snap a five-game losing streak Thursday night against the surging Washington Mystics.

Coming off its second WNBA championship in three years, Phoenix (5-10) had gotten off to a shaky start, and it didn't get any more promising when Taurasi sat out Tuesday's 94-88 loss at Atlanta with a bruised lower back.

"It was a pregame decision," Mercury forward Penny Taylor said. "We weren't sure, but the plan was to get a win because we haven't had one. Regardless of who's out there, we needed to fight harder and we did. We played well and lost to a good team."

The league leader with 22.9 points per game, Taurasi suffered the injury during Sunday's 95-85 loss at Washington.

While Taylor stepped up with a season-high 31 points and Temeka Johnson added a career-high 12 assists against Atlanta, the Mercury's up-tempo style again led to a big offensive game for their opponent.

During this losing streak - matching Phoenix's longest since a seven-game skid in July 2003 - opponents are averaging 95.0 points. Crystal Langhorne took advantage by scoring a career-high 31 points for Washington on Sunday.

The Mystics (10-5) were forced to play a more defensive game Tuesday against Indiana, but they still won 68-65 for their sixth victory in seven games. Katie Smith scored 21 points, while Langhorne's 10 rebounds - four offensive - led Washington to a 35-24 edge in that category.

"We just really wanted to be aggressive on the glass," Langhorne said. "We know that even when shots aren't falling, you can always rebound and go to the glass."

Washington is off to its best 15-game start since it was 11-4 in 2002, but it may feel it has something to prove on a three-game road trip that begins Thursday. The Mystics won their first two road games but have dropped four of their last five away from home.

They've won three of their last four trips to Phoenix, with Langhorne contributing 19 points and 12 rebounds in a 91-81 win Aug. 21.

The former Maryland star is 33 of 46 (71.7 percent) from the field in her career against the Mercury, and she's averaging 24.3 points and 11.8 rebounds in her last four games overall.

"She did it in college. To people who followed her career I don't think it's much of a surprise," Taurasi said of Langhorne on Sunday. "She has really good footwork and can finish with either hand. She is playing phenomenal right now."

  • 5
    MattDOOM777 Added 5 roots

    Mystics 107, Mercury 104  FinalJul 2 8:12 AM

  • WNBA

    Jul 2 12:11 AM

  • WNBA

    Jul 1 10:26 PM