ATLANTA (AP) - When the Phoenix Mercury get significant contributions from their top eight players, Diana Taurasi likes their chances of success.
``We had a lot of people play well, and that's what we need to win games,' she said. ``A lot of people participating, and today if you go up and down (the stat sheet), I think we did that.'
Taurasi scored 20 points, Candice Dupree added 19 and the Phoenix Mercury won their third straight game with a 92-83 victory over the Atlanta Dream on Friday night.
Penny Taylor finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for the Mercury (3-3). She said she didn't know she was two assists from a triple-double.
``That's good, very good,' Taylor said. ``Doesn't really mean much. We won. That's what matters.'
Phoenix held the Dream, who have lost three of four, without a field goal for eight minutes before Courtney Paris' layup cut the lead to 74-59 with 9:16 remaining.
Angel McCoughtry scored 24 points for Atlanta (2-6), but coach Marynell Meadors believes her best player needs to play fewer minutes than the 33 she logged against Phoenix.
McCoughtry is still not at full strength after missing time with a knee injury, but with Sancho Lyttle in Europe to help Spain qualify for the Olympics, the Dream needed extra offense.
``Angel started to play how Angel typically plays, and that is what we want her to do,' Meadors said. ``We have to get her minutes back down to 28-29, and other players need to step up.'
McCoughtry's burst and speed were somewhat compromised as the game wore on, particularly as Taurasi chased her down in the fourth quarter and blocked a layup attempt.
``We do well in the first half, but during the second half, I don't know if we are just tired, but we slack off,' McCoughtry said. ``We just have to keep our focus going throughout the entire game.'
Taurasi hit a 3-pointer from the left corner to make it 81-63, and Taylor followed with a fast-break layup that gave Phoenix a 20-point lead with 5:48 remaining.
``I think we had our focus on successful transitions, making sure we were matching up and not letting them get to the basket,' Taylor said. ``They're good at penetrating the ball, and that was an issue for parts of the game, but we managed to help each other out and protect well.'
The Mercury had four of five starters score in double figures. A fifth starter, guard Ketia Swanier, finished with five points and five assists in 28 minutes. Reserves DeWanna Bonner, Marie Ferdinand-Harris and Alexis Gray-Lawson combined for 14 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.
``They went small on us with four guards in the lineup,' Phoenix coach Corey Gaines said. ``We stayed with our same lineup and just tried to get easy shots on the inside. We didn't change anything.'
Problems in the third quarter plagued Atlanta for a third straight game. The Dream were fortunate to hang on for a three-point win last Tuesday over Chicago, but this was a different story.
Atlanta trailed by six with 3:29 left in the third when Meadors pulled Iziane Castro-Marques out of the game after the eighth-year guard missed a 3-pointer and dropped to 5 for 16 from the field and 1 for 6 on 3-pointers.
Meadors said Castro-Marques banged her knee. The coach wasn't upset with her shot selection.
``When we cut the lead to six in the third quarter, we did that through penetration and driving to the rim,' Meadors said. ``Whether we made the shot or got fouled, we made something happen.'
Castro-Marques, who finished with 12 points, returned for the final minutes but missed her only field-goal attempt.
Phoenix never trailed after Kara Braxton's runner made it 4-3. Braxton scored 17 points.
``We didn't defend her,' Meadors said. ``When you let Phoenix catch it that low in the box, they are going to score. Braxton is hard to guard and very talented.'
The Associated Press News Service
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