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WNBA: Mercury prepare to host Aces without injured Diana Taurasi

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The season’s first battle of the desert will be missing some star power Wednesday when the Phoenix Mercury play host to the Las Vegas Aces.

The Mercury will be significantly short-handed after it was revealed Tuesday that WNBA all-time leading scorer Diana Taurasi has a small fracture in her sternum. Needing just six points to reach 9,000 for her career, Taurasi will miss the next four weeks.

The Aces (2-2) were the WNBA’s runner-up last season and expected to compete for a title in 2021. But they are coming off a 72-65 home loss to the Connecticut Sun on Sunday in a semifinal rematch from last season.

The Aces had just one offensive rebound in the defeat, tied for the franchise low in a game, while Connecticut had 12 offensive boards. Las Vegas was outscored 32-24 in the paint.

“If we take care of our business, we’re going to be OK,” Aces head coach Bill Laimbeer said. “The energy factor (Sunday) was disturbingly not there.”

A’ja Wilson leads the Aces with 18.3 points and 7.8 rebounds per game, while Jackie Young, the first overall draft pick in 2019, has opened the season with 13.5 points and 4.8 rebounds.

The Mercury (2-2) also will enter off a loss to Connecticut, falling 84-67 on Friday in their home opener.

Skylar Diggins-Smith scored 20 points in the loss, while Taurasi had 13 points with four assists. In fact, Taurasi scored 30 points and played 51 minutes in two games since her sternum injury occurred May 16 in a previous game against Connecticut. A CT scan this week revealed the extent of the injury.

The Mercury were outrebounded 48-24 against the Sun and trailed 22-6 in second-chance points.

“I just think we didn’t come out with the right energy, we didn’t have a good start to that game and it kind of unraveled from there,” said Mercury guard Kia Nurse, who had six points. “Just continue to find the little things that we can do better to be a better team at the start of each game.”

Brittney Griner also scored six points for Phoenix and was 3 of 11 from the field. The six-time All-Star Griner has averaged 13.3 points to open the season, below her 17.2 career average.

The Mercury expect to get center Kia Vaughn back from COVID-19 protocol, after she had to quarantine upon returning stateside from Europe. Vaughn, who averaged 6.1 points last season, has not played this season.

–Field Level Media

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