The Phoenix Mercury nearly ended what's now a nine-game losing streak to the Minnesota Lynx last week. To give themselves a chance to keep the skid from reaching double digits, the Mercury will likely have to find a way to contain Maya Moore for the entire game this time.
The Lynx seek their second straight season sweep of the Mercury on Wednesday in both teams' final contest before the All-Star game.
The Mercury led the Lynx by eight at halftime at home Saturday as they limited Moore to seven points and 3-of-12 shooting until the game's final minute.
Moore, though, then hit a 3-pointer, followed a steal with a layup and made two free throws to lift Minnesota (13-3) to an 82-77 victory, its sixth straight.
Moore is averaging 16.8 points per game on the season and 21.3 in the Lynx's four wins over the Mercury (9-8), which have come by an average of 17.0 points.
"I'm always trying to find a way to stay involved and help my team win," said Moore, voted an All-Star starter for the second time. "I never give up, I don't like to give up on my team and I could have easily just let it get to my head and gotten frustrated. But our team has done such a good job of picking each other up."
Minnesota is 7-0 at home. While Phoenix is 1-4 in its last five, the Mercury are 6-3 on the road and have won six of seven there as they seek their first victory over Minnesota since Aug. 9, 2011.
Diana Taurasi - another All-Star starter and the league leader with 22.4 points per game - finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and six assists Sunday, but again shot poorly against the Lynx. She went 8 for 24 after being held to a 2-for-6 effort and a season-low four points in a 91-59 loss at Minnesota on July 7.
Taurasi, though, will sit out this game after being assessed her seventh technical foul Saturday - which triggers a one-game league-mandated suspension. That will further deplete a Phoenix team trying to deal with injuries to key players.
The Mercury have struggled without rookie and top overall pick Brittney Griner, the WNBA leader with 2.8 blocks per game who could miss her fifth straight contest with a sprained left knee. Forward Lynetta Kizer also didn't play Sunday because of a strained left knee.
Phoenix signed guard Jasmine James to a seven-day contract Sunday, but the Mercury still had only eight healthy players.
"We just didn't have enough at the end,'' said DeWanna Bonner, who had 23 points and 10 rebounds. "That's where (the Lynx's) veteran leadership comes in, they have a full roster. They can make a couple of subs and we can't."
A third All-Star starter, Seimone Augustus, scored 15 for Minnesota in her second game since returning from a sprained ankle.