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May 17, 2024 10:29 pm

Diana Taurasi, Mercury set to clash with Dream, Tina Charles

Diana Taurasi, Mercury

Diana Taurasi, off to a good start in her 20th WNBA season, and the Phoenix Mercury are set for their 2024 home debut on Saturday against the Atlanta Dream.

Taurasi, who will turn 42 on June 11, has played her entire career with the Mercury since she was drafted first overall in the 2004 WNBA draft.

She did not show her age in Phoenix’s season-opening 89-80 road loss to the reigning champion Las Vegas Aces on Tuesday. Taurasi finished with 23 points while making 7 of 11 attempts from 3-point range.

On a night when the Aces were awarded their WNBA title rings, Las Vegas was boosted by attempting 29 free throws, making 25. Phoenix was 7 of 10 from the foul line.

“Obviously, ring night, they’re going to come out and stick it to us, but I thought we hung in there and cut the lead,” Taurasi said, referencing Phoenix slicing what had been an 18-point, first-quarter deficit down to three points with 1:17 remaining.

“With a minute left, we’re down three and then all of a sudden they’re at the free-throw line again, which wasn’t a huge shock for the whole night,” Taurasi added.

Phoenix also got 19 points from Kahleah Copper, while Natasha Cloud and Rebecca Allen each finished with 14 points. Cloud contributed eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Dream come to Phoenix after defeating the host Los Angeles Sparks 92-81 in their season opener on Wednesday.

Rhyne Howard scored 25 points, and Tina Charles finished with 21 points and 14 rebounds.

Charles returns to Phoenix after playing 16 games for the Mercury in the 2022 season before seeking and receiving a contract buyout that allowed her to join the Seattle Storm. She played 18 games for Seattle that year, then sat out the 2023 season before returning to action this year.

She is playing for Atlanta coach Tanisha Wright, a former teammate with the New York Liberty.

“For me personally, it wasn’t about the stat line,” Charles said after the win over the Sparks in which she made 9 of 14 shots from the field. “It was not just the opportunity to be back in the league, but to be alongside Tanisha. She always brought the best out of me when we were teammates in New York.”

–Field Level Media

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