The Phoenix Mercury have yet to experience a victory since Diana Taurasi's return, but it's not because of a lack of effort on the part of their superstar.
The Mercury will seek to avoid an 0-3 start in Friday night's home opener while earning a 10th consecutive win over the rebuilding Seattle Storm.
Taurasi totaled 50 points in her first two games since a yearlong hiatus from the WNBA and had 32 against Indiana on Wednesday. Phoenix, though, struggled once again at the other end of the court in a 97-93 defeat.
The Mercury allowed seven Fever players to reach double figures after opening the season with a 95-76 loss to Minnesota on Saturday.
"We gave them easy baskets, too many points in the paint. We can't allow teams to score 97 points. I know that much," coach Sandy Brondello said. "We didn't do the job we needed to do to keep them in front of us, the team defense that we're usually known for. There were too many high-percentage shots."
Phoenix will seek better fortunes in its return home, where it was 13-4 last season and 16-1 in 2014 with Taurasi. The Mercury haven't started 0-3 since 2013, their first season with Brittney Griner, and will try to avoid that fate with a sixth straight home win over the Storm (0-1).
The teams split a pair of games in the preseason, with each club earning a road win. Seattle, though, was dominated in the first game that counted, losing 96-66 at Los Angeles on Sunday.
Top overall draft pick Breanna Stewart had 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting in her pro debut.
"She shows that she has a lot to offer, getting better and better," coach Jenny Boucek told the team's official website. "She still has a ton to learn, and that's the exciting part. When you have a young team, you have to learn as quickly as you can. Experience is the best teacher. And I welcome every experience we will have."
Jewell Loyd, the No. 1 selection in 2015 and reigning rookie of the year, had 20 points and was the Storm's only other player to score more than seven. Seattle also committed 26 turnovers and went 1 of 10 from 3-point range.
With Lauren Jackson retired and Sue Bird heading that way in the near future, the Storm will seek to renew their franchise behind their two young stars. Stewart understands, however, that there is a long road ahead.
"We have to compete all night," Stewart said. "There are a lot of things that we need to get better at."