This morning the Mercury found out they will be without Diana Taurasi "indefinitely" as her hip injury has not healed entirely. Then, just a few hours later, the team began preparation to take on the defending Eastern Conference Champion Atlanta Dream.
Losing Taurasi is a major impact according to Coach Corey Gaines, "Well I think Diana is one of the top players in the world. Let's put her in the top 5. It means something. Take any of the top teams in the NBA, take Durant away, take Duncan away, take Lebron away. You know whoever is left, it makes a difference in the game."
That was exactly what happened as the game got out of hand early when the Dream took a commanding 16 point lead at the half. It was the second quarter that buried the Mercury.
In the second quarter the team shot 5-18 from the field with 3 total turnovers. It was not a pretty quarter offensively for the Mercury as they struggled to find an identity without their leader. When the final buzzer went off the Mercury (1-3) lost to the Dream (2-2) 81-65.
Some positives came from the game, all of which came after the second quarter. For the last two quarters the Mercury played neck-and-neck with the Dream. They played with effort, passion, and even a little Mercury basketball in the second half where they limited the Dream to a dead heat 38-38 for those final two quarters.
On the road the team leaned on DeWanna Bonner. The on court leader by default led the team with 22 points and 10 rebounds leading the team, and the game in each category. This season she has stepped her game up in the absence of Penny Taylor, and now Diana Taurasi.
Through four games Bonner is averaging 18 PPG 7 RPG on 49% shooting from the field. She is on pace to best her career marks in all three categories.
For the opposition balance was key. The two leading scorers for the game were on the Mercury in Bonner and Candice Dupree (14 points), but the Dream were led with five scorers in double figures none scoring more than 12 points. Four out of five starters scored in double digits as Catherine Kraayeveld led the team off the bench with 12 points going 4-4 from the field (3-3 from three) for the game.
It has been a tough start to the season for the Mercury with the injuries, roster overhaul, and newfound focus on defense. All of those things will not be changing anytime soon and the Mercury have to figure out things in a hurry as they stay on the road tomorrow to face off against Western Conference rival the San Antonio Silver Stars (1-2) on Friday, June 1st.
As Bonner stated after the game, "We don't have much time. You just have to go out and play a little harder than that. Rebounding is all about desire and we just have to go out and get the ball."
That game will be available on Live Access at phoenixmercury.com.
> Taurasi Update: The team is aware of the opportunity to add another player to the roster if they acknowledge that Diana Taurasi's "indefinite" injury will be a minimum of four games. It is an option, but nothing is imminent. Any addition would be a patch, nothing permanent.