NEW YORK — Candice Dupree scored 18 points as Phoenix beat the New York Liberty 76-64 on Tuesday night, giving the Mercury home-court advantage throughout the WNBA playoffs.
Diana Taurasi had 14 points, Brittney Griner scored 12 and Erin Phillips had 11 for Phoenix (27-4), the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. Dupree moved into 20th place on the league’s career scoring list with 4,247 points.
Tina Charles scored 16 of her 26 points in the first quarter to keep New York (13-18) competitive early.
The Liberty trailed 33-30 in the second quarter, before the Mercury scored the last 10 points of the half to take a 13-point lead at the break. Taurasi had five points and Anete Jekabsone-Zogota had a 3-pointer during the run.
After New York scored the first four points of the third quarter to pull to 43-34, Dupree had consecutive baskets to restore Phoenix’s double-digit lead for good. New York got no closer than 12 points again.
Dupree’s layup made it 55-38 with 4:34 left in the third and her jumper gave them an 18-point lead — their biggest of the game — with 5:46 remaining in the fourth.
The Mercury’s win ended Minnesota’s three-year reign atop the West in the regular season. The Lynx had already locked up at least second place.
New York’s loss put its chance at the postseason in even more peril as the Liberty dropped to fifth place — one-game out of the last playoff spot in the East behind Chicago and Indiana. However they face the Fever twice in their last three games.
The Mercury moved one win behind the league record of 28, set by Los Angeles in 2000 and 2001 — when the league played 32 games — and matched by Seattle in 2010.