PHOENIX MERCURY

Mercury’s Brittney Griner drops 27 in home return loss vs. Sky

May 21, 2023, 3:44 PM | Updated: 6:09 pm

“I’m back!”

Brittney Griner pounded her chest and held up threes after drilling a triple in the final minute of the third quarter of her first home game for the Phoenix Mercury since 2021 on Sunday.

Griner dropped a 27-point double-double in the Mercury’s home opener, a 75-69 loss against the Chicago Sky.

The seven-time all-star hit nine of 13 shots from the field with eight free throws, grabbed 10 rebounds and blocked four shots in her return to Footprint Center following her detainment in Russia. She came back to the U.S. in December after nearly 10 months in custody.

“We didn’t we didn’t finish the job by getting a win tonight, but I’m just continuing to be impressed with BG,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “BG is somebody who can handle so many things clearly that many people could not handle.”

After an emotional introduction, Griner quickly went to work with the first bucket of the game.

Her back to the basket, Griner faked as though she would shoot a turnaround, spun the other way and put up another up-fake. Chicago’s Elizabeth Williams fell for the deke, Griner absorbed the contact and hit the shot to begin a three-point play.

“If I was the first option, I was going to be aggressive and try to score,” Griner said.

She finished the first half with nine points before igniting further with 18 points after the break.

Chicago pushed the lead to 51-41 early in the third quarter, but Griner brought the fans out of their seats with her 3-pointer that pulled Phoenix within 58-53 late in the third quarter.

Phoenix cut the deficit to 66-64 on Diana Taurasi’s 3-pointer with three minutes left. After the Sky pushed the lead back to five, Griner scored on a three-point play to make it 69-67.

The Sky held on to the lead, though, helped by a balanced attack of five players scoring in double figures.

A Dana Evans runner with less than 40 seconds remaining proved to be the dagger.

Evans finished with 13 points and Courtney Williams added 12 for the Sky (2-0).

Taurasi had 16 points and Sug Sutton added 13 for Phoenix (0-2).

Turnovers plagued Phoenix’s offense, as it committed 19. The Sky also grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to the Mercury’s three. Chicago put up 14 more field goals than Phoenix.

Griner had 18 points in the Mercury’s season opener, a 94-71 loss to the Los Angeles Sparks Friday night.

The Mercury’s next game is against the Minnesota Lynx, Thursday at 7 p.m. in Phoenix.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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