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Mercury win 13th straight game, clinch playoff berth Stars edge Shock

SEATTLE, July 23, (AP): Diana Taurasi isn’t focused on winning streaks. She’s just trying to get the Phoenix Mercury to keep improving. Taurasi scored 22 and Candice Dupree added 19 to help the Phoenix Mercury win their 13th straight game and clinch a playoff berth with an 89-71 victory over the Seattle Storm on Tuesday night. Brittney Griner added 17 points, seven rebounds and five blocks for Phoenix (19-3), the first team to win 13 straight since the Storm in 2010 and the third longest win streak in league history. The Mercury are five shy of tying the Los Angeles Sparks’ record of 18 consecutive set in 2001. Phoenix hopes to win its third WNBA title this year to go with championships in 2007 and 2009.

Phoenix spoiled what the Storm billed as Championship Night with a halftime ceremony featuring trophies displayed from Seattle’s two WNBA titles in 2004 and 2010, the SuperSonics 1979 Larry O’Brien Trophy and the Seahawks Super Bowl XLVIII Lombardi Trophy. Earl Thomas carried the NFL trophy to midcourt while Slick Watts carried the NBA trophy.
 
The Mercury could have another trophy of their own this year. Crystal Langhorne had 22 points and nine rebounds to lead Seattle (9-16), which dropped 2-1/2 games behind Los Angeles for the fourth andl final Western Conference playoff berth. The Storm have lost four of their last five and three in a row. Seattle coach Brian Agler said the Mercury are tough to defend. Seattle committed 22 turnovers to just 10 for the Mercury, so the mistakes were too many to overcome. Phoenix shot 53.8 percent (35 of 65) from the floor. The Mercury won the first three meetings at home with the Storm by an average of 17.3 points. Phoenix is 9-2 on the road.
 
Stars 95, Shock 93
In San Antonio, the San Antonio Stars couldn’t stop Odyssey Sims or Skylar Diggins, but it was acceptable because they knew the Tulsa Shock had no answer for Danielle Robinson in the lane. Kayla McBride scored 23 points and San Antonio overcame career-highs by Sims and Diggins to beat Tulsa 95-93 on Tuesday night. Robinson scored 21 points, including a game-winning layup for the Stars (12-12). Danielle Adams added 15 points and Hammon had 10 points as San Antonio remained in third place in the West ahead of the Los Angeles Sparks (10-12). Sims had 39 points and Diggins 34 for Tulsa (8-16), which fell to 3-9 on the road. Sims was 15 for 20 from the field in surpassing her previous high as a rookie of 30 points against Connecticut on July 3. She fell one point short of the most ever by a rookie, set by Candace Parker in 2008.
 
Diggins was 14 for 23 in besting her previous high of 33 set June 22 against Chicago. Sims scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, including a driving layup to tie the game at 91 with 1:19 remaining. Adams followed with a pair of free throws, but Sims had another driving layup to forge another tie at 93. Robinson scored the game-winner on a layup high off the glass over Glory Johnson to put the Stars ahead 95-93 with 3.5 seconds remaining. Following a Shock timeout, Sophia Malcolm-Young tipped away the inbounds pass to McBride to seal the victory, leading Tulsa coach Fred Williams to kick the scorer’s table in frustration. Both teams had a slow start to what became an offensive showcase.
 
Diggins missed two open layups to start the game before making her third on a contested attempt that resulted in a three-point play. The Notre Dame product also made her team’s next three shots in a personal 9-2 run that put Tulsa up 13-6 with 2:19 remaining. Reserve post Kayla Alexander sparked San Antonio’s own 9-2 run to open the second quarter, cutting Tulsa’s lead to 24-21. After completing a three-point play, Alexander followed a miss by McBride to complete the run with 7:41 remaining in the half. Alexander’s pull-up jumper tied the game at 30 and Robinson’s 19-footer gave San Antonio its first lead at 32-30. Robinson later crossed over Sims, freeing herself for an open jumper and a 34-30 lead.
San Antonio held Tulsa to 28 percent shooting in the second quarter. An aggressive approach helped Tulsa get nine free throws free throws in the third quarter, making all but one. The Shock tied the game at 61 on Johnson’s jumper, but the Stars closed with a 3-pointer by Adams and a driving layup by Robinson for a 66-61 lead.
 
Sky 60, Fever 57
In Rosemont, Ill, Sylvia Fowles knew she had to step up for her struggling team. Her teammates have said they need her, and her coach has challenged her. Fowles responded with 21 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots to lead the Chicago Sky to a 60-57 victory over the Indiana Fever on Tuesday night. The Sky (9-14) snapped a six-game losing streak. Epiphanny Prince added 13 points for the Sky, who had lost 13 of 16. Marissa Coleman and Tamika Catchings each had 11 points for the Fever (11-13). Prince hit a driving layup for a 57-55 Sky lead with 21.3 seconds left. Fowles fouled Erlana Larkins, who made one of two free throws with 16.1 seconds remaining. After the Sky’s Jamierra Faulkner hit one of two free throws, Fowles tried to block a driving Catchings but was called for the foul with 4.1 seconds left.
 
Catchings made one of two free throws. On the other end, Allie Quigley hit both free throws for the final.
The Sky shot 16 of 17 from the free-throw line while the Fever were 9 for 20. The Fever tied it at 51 after Karima Christmas’ 3-pointer with 5:12 left and Catchings’ two free throws at 3:54. Catchings missed both free throws with 1:32 remaining, but hit a layup with 1:02 left. Fowles answered with a layup before Coleman made both free throws to tie it again. The Sky remained without starters Courtney Vandersloot (knee) and Elena Delle Donne (Lyme disease). Chatman said Delle Donne, who is averaging 21.2 points and hasn’t played since June 25, will ‘’probably’’ return against New York on July 31 if her treatments and workouts go well. The Fever beat the Sky 82-64 on Thursday in Indianapolis.
 
Lynx 112, Dream 108
In Minneapolis, Maya Moore put on one of the best scoring displays in the history of the WNBA and it was barely enough to lift Minnesota. Moore scored 48 points, the second most ever in the league, to help the Lynx beat the Atlanta Dream 112-108 in double-overtime. She hit 16 of 30 shots from the field, including 7 of 9 from beyond the arc. The 48 points are just short of the record 51 scored by Tulsa’s Riquna Williams last season. Moore now has scored 30 or more points in 10 games this year, tying the league record with 10 games to play. She also displayed her versatility on Tuesday with 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and a blocked shot at the end of regulation to force overtime. She attributed her big night to keeping the game plan simple. Lindsay Whalen scored 26 points and Rebekkah Brunson added 17 points and 12 rebounds in her first game of the season. The 2013 All-Star missed the first 23 games of the season after undergoing knee surgery.
 
Sancho Lyttle had 26 points and 12 rebounds, while Tiffany Hayes scored 22 and Angel McCoughtry added 21 for the Dream, who were playing without coach Michael Cooper. The team announced Monday that Cooper is taking a temporary leave of absence and will have surgery this week in Atlanta. The Dream say a full recovery is expected. The Dream trailed by as much as 14 in the fourth quarter, but they closed regulation on an 18-4 run to force overtime. In the first extra session, Hayes and McCoughtry hit consecutive 3s to put Atlanta on top 95-89. But Moore answered with a 3 of her own and Whalen eventually tied it with a jumper.
 
In the second overtime, Moore drained two long jump shots as the Lynx pulled out to a five-point lead and Tan White made a pull-up jumper with 38.4 seconds left to ice Minnesota’s fifth straight win. Moore had 23 points in a fast-paced first half and finished regulation with 40. She’s had to pick up some of the scoring burden in the absence of Seimone Augustus, who missed her eighth straight game with bursitis in her left knee.

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