Diana Taurasi scores 9,000th point, Mercury take down Sparks
Diana Taurasi of the Phoenix Mercury scored her 9,000th career point against the Los Angeles Sparks, becoming the first player in WNBA history to do so.
The shot occurred in the second quarter and helped Phoenix spring a nine-point win, 88-79, in a game that pushed them into the WNBA playoff picture.
Taurasi had been out with a fractured sternum. The 39-year old guard was fouled as she made a driving layup and converted the three-point play to reach the 9,000-point mark.
She hit her season high in points on the game. She scored 23 points in just three quarters.
Her teammate Brittney Griner was able to add 22 points of her own.
Briana Turner led the team in rebounds with 15 and Skyler Diggins-Smith added four assists for Phoenix who took a 2nd quarter lead and never looked back.
For the Mercury, they move into a playoff position by improving to .500 and taking the Washington Mystics’ 8th place spot in the WNBA’s final playoff position.
But Taurasi’s big night stole the show.
She finished with 25 points, four threes and 9-for-9 in free throws and further cemented her place in WNBA history.
To put her 9,000th point into perspective, only Tina Thompson (7,488) and Tamika Catchings (7,380) have reached the 7,000-point mark.
Erica Wheeler made back-to-back baskets to cap a 7-0 run by the Sparks and tie it at 47-all early in the third quarter but Phoenix (7-7) scored 13 of the next 15 points to take the lead for good.
Taurasi made two 3-pointers in the final minute of the period to push the Mercury’s lead to 14 points going into the fourth.
It was the third consecutive game between the teams and their final regular matchup of the season.
The Mercury next play the Minnesota Lynx on Wednesday at home.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.