Record-setting Taurasi leads Phoenix over Sky

Updated 6/1/2017 10:56 PM

It was fitting that 190 points were scored between the Chicago Sky and the Phoenix Mercury on Thursday night at Allstate Arena.

After all, one of the all-time best scorers in all of women's basketball was on full display.

Guard Diana Taurasi, now in her 13th WNBA season, scored a game-high 37 points to lead Phoenix to a 99-91 victory over the Sky in a nip-and-tuck game that featured 23 lead changes and 9 ties.

In the process, Taurasi set two scoring records to even further cement her place in league history as one of the best.

Entering the game, Taurasi needed 1 three-pointer to pass Katie Smith (906 career three-pointers) as the WNBA's all-time leader in made three-pointers. Taurasi nailed 8 three-pointers (8-of-14). Also, Taurasi needed 19 points to pass former Stevenson star Tamika Catchings as the No. 2 all-time leading scorer in league history. With her outburst against the Sky, now Taurasi needs only 90 points to pass Tina Thompson for the No. 1 spot.

"It just means a lot to be in the league for that long and to do this all with one club. I think that's probably the thing I cherish the most," said Taurasi, who was 9-of-15 from the field and hit all 11 of her free throw attempts. "And passing Katie Smith is something I never thought would really happen. She was one of my heroes growing up. I got to share the court with her at the Olympics. And she taught me what it was to be a professional and how to come in and do it every single day.

"I've just been really lucky. But this record will last a couple years and then someone will break it and that's what we want. We want people chasing things they didn't think they could do."

The Sky wasn't chasing just Taurasi around. Phoenix 6-foot-8 center Brittney Griner was also a load. She rolled up 28 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. She hit 10-of-19 shots and all eight of her free throws.

Phoenix also got 14 points from guard Leilani Mitchell off the bench.

The Sky's offensive production was a little more balanced as five players scored in double-figures, led by center Stefanie Dolson's 21 points. Dolson drained a career-high 6 three-pointers (6-of-7).

Guard Allie Quigley had 18 points, center Imani Boyette had 14 points off the bench and Tamera Young and Cappie Pondexter added 11 and 10 points respectively.

The Sky, ranked last in the WNBA in field goal percentage (38.2 percent), had its best shooting game of the season, hitting on 54 percent of its shots. But the dynamic duo of Taurasi and Griner was just too much for even a hot-shooting team to overcome.

"I think any coach would be happy shooting 54 percent from the field on a night like tonight," Sky coach Amber Stocks said. "It was a back-and-forth, intense night. A lot of clutch shots were being attempted and made."

And that brings us back to Taurasi, who has made a living over her entire career of making clutch shots. Just how much longer that career is going to last for the soon-to-be 35-year-old, is the next big question.

Many basketball insiders still consider Taurasi the best female basketball player in the world.

"I've been trying to fight those feelings back of thinking about how I got here," Taurasi said. "Because I feel like I have a couple good years left in me. And when you start looking at the past, you get a little glucky, which is not lucky. I'm just excited to keep going. I'm in a good place right now.

"I'm realistic (though). I think the next three or four years or so I'm really going to have to plan it out to stay physically and mentally playing at a high level."

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