Diana Taurasi scored a career-playoff-high 37 points and the visiting Phoenix Mercury never trailed in a 117-91 victory over the Las Vegas Aces that evened their best-of-five WNBA semifinal playoff series at 1-1 Thursday night.
Taurasi, playing just her third game after a five-game absence due to an ankle injury, made 10 of 13 field goals, including 8 of 11 from 3-point range, and all nine of her free throws.
Brittney Griner scored 16 of her 25 points in the first quarter as the fifth-seeded Mercury got off to a fast start for the second consecutive game and never slowed down. They shot 60.6 percent from the floor, including 53.8 percent on 3-point attempts (14-for-26).
Skylar Diggins-Smith added 17 points and Kia Nurse and Shey Peddy scored 11 each for Phoenix, which will host Game 3 on Sunday afternoon.
Kelsey Plum scored 25 points, Riquna Williams added 17, Liz Cambage had 13, A’ja Wilson had 12 and Chelsea Gray and Jackie Young 10 each to lead the second-seeded Aces. Wilson added nine rebounds along with seven assists.
Phoenix led by 16 at halftime, but Cambage’s basket pulled Las Vegas within 72-60.
Taurasi scored eight points during a 10-3 run as the Mercury increased the lead to 82-63 midway through the period.
Phoenix led by as many as 23 before holding a 98-78 edge at the end of the period.
The Mercury, who led by nine points at the end of the first quarter in Game 1, had an even stronger first quarter Thursday.
Taurasi scored five points as Phoenix raced to a 13-2 lead. Wilson’s jumper pulled the Aces within 23-15.
Griner scored 10 of her team’s final 14 points as Phoenix took a 37-20 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Mercury made 16 of 19 shots in their highest-scoring quarter of the season.
Phoenix extended the lead to 19 before Vegas closed within 52-40.
Diggins-Smith and Peddy each made a 3-pointer to help the Mercury take a 68-52 halftime lead.
–Field Level Media
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