PHOENIX — Brittney Griner had a career-high 32 points on 13-of-15 shooting to help the Phoenix Mercury race past the Indiana Fever, 85-62, at Talking Stick Resort Arena. The 6-9 center collected 10 rebounds and posted the 22nd double-double of her career while leading Phoenix to its largest victory margin ever against Indiana.
Phoenix avenged an opening-night loss to Dallas and dealt the Fever a second-straight West Coast defeat. The Mercury snapped a two-game Fever win streak at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Mercury commanded a nine-point lead at the end of one quarter and never looked back. Phoenix raced to a 52-29 halftime lead after limiting the Fever to 2-of-15 shooting in the second quarter. The Fever scored 10 free throws in the first 4:20 of the period, but didn’t score again until Tiffany Mitchell’s breakaway layup ended a 15-0 scoring drought with 52 seconds before intermission. Phoenix pushed its lead to as many as 24 points, 51-27, on a free throw by Brittney Griner with 42 seconds left in the half.
Phoenix led by 29 points early in the fourth quarter.
“I have to give credit to Griner,” said Fever coach Pokey Chatman, seeking her first win on the Indiana sidelines. “When she hits that sky hook from 10-feet, you can’t even send a double-team at her. When she gets into a rhythm early, she’s tough to stop.”
Chatman added, “This is big girl basketball. You can’t let any team get comfortable in this league. Phoenix lost its opener here and needed this win. We made things too easy for them, and let them run away with it. We need to play with more pride from the opening tip.”
Joining Griner in the scoring column was Diana Taurasi who finished with 13 points, six rebounds and an assist for Phoenix. She became the first player in league history with 7,000 career points, 1,500 career rebounds and 1,500 career assists.
Leilani Mitchell added 11 points for the Mercury and Danielle Robinson scored 10.
In a return to Phoenix where she was a starter the past seven seasons including a 2014 WNBA championship, Candice Dupree scored 14 points to pace the Fever and move past Swin Cash in 14th place on the WNBA’s all-time scoring chart. She has 5,129 points through 11-plus WNBA seasons. Just shy of her own double-double with nine rebounds, Dupree, ironically, owns the Mercury career record with 32.
“It was a little weird [being back in Phoenix] yesterday when we practiced here and I walked through the halls. It was nice to get a warm welcome from the fans at the start of the game. It’s always nice to come back someplace where you are appreciated.”
Indiana shot just 35 percent for the game and made just 1-of-15 3-point attempts. With the exception of Dupree’s 6-of-12 shooting, Indiana’s starting lineup made only three of 25 attempts from the floor.
Tiffany Mitchell and Natalie Achonwa both added 11 points for Indiana, which returns to Bankers Life Fieldhouse after two season-opening road games, to host its home opener against Connecticut on Saturday.