The Mercury held the Sun to only 37.5% shooting and did well in the points in the paint category giving up 36 and scoring 32 and yet the defending champions continue to struggle.
Tonight, they were undone but poor three-point shooting (5 for 23) and a disastrous 2nd quarter in which they were outscored 24 to 15. Tangela Smith (who finished the game with 3 points on 1 for 7 shooting) provided nothing offensively in the second and the bench combination of Bonner, Lilley and Ohlde combined for 3 points while giving up 8 points to the Sun reserves in that crucial period.
With three losses in a row and three games under .500, it is time to start wondering just how good this team really is?
They simply can't afford to have Temeka Johnson and Tangela Smith go 1 for 8 from the three point line. It makes life too easy for the opposing defense to double Taurasi and Taylor and the Mercury defense and rebounding aren't good enough to keep them in games when they aren't scoring efficiently.
The problems seem to be less about the replacement of Cappie Pondexter with Candice Dupree and more about a sharp decline from Tangela Smith who is now only shooting 31% from three after leading the league last season at 45.2%.
Less efficient shooting combined with several games where the team played flat and some understandable adjustment at the beginning of the season all leave the Mercury looking like a very average team. And yet, because every other team in the West outside of Seattle is struggling as well, Phoenix is still in second place in its conference.
From the official team release:
Phoenix- The Mercury fell to the Connecticut Sun today, 82-79, for the second time in six days. Recording its third consecutive loss, the Mercury falls to 5-8 on the season. Diana Taurasi led the way for the defending champions with 26 points, five rebounds and six assists.
DeWanna Bonner recorded her third double-double of the season with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Penny Taylor and Candice Dupree added 15 and 16 points, respectively.
The Mercury continues its three-game east coast road trip on Sunday when it takes on the Washington Mystics at 1 p.m. PT.