Regardless if star Diana Taurasi is set to return this weekend, the focus for the Phoenix Mercury is to bounce back from their first loss in two weeks.
The Mercury get that chance to rebound Sunday against the visiting Atlanta Dream, who are coming off their first road win of 2019.
There was talk that Taurasi (back injury) would make her season debut Friday, but that didn't happen and Phoenix (5-6) fell 80-76 at home to the surging New York Liberty. It was the Mercury's first defeat since June 20.
"I'm getting more physically fit," Taurasi, the league's all-time leading scorer, told the WNBA's official website this week. "But to be on the court with elite players, you have to be in good physical shape and I'm not sure I've scratched the surface of that yet."
While Taurasi's return seems close but ultimately uncertain, those Mercury players able to play will push forward and try to quickly improve after their three-game winning streak ended Friday.
Brittney Griner (18.5 points per game, 7.1 rebounds per game) had 30 points with eight rebounds, but DeWanna Bonner (19.2 ppg) scored just nine on 3-of-13 shooting as Phoenix allowed the Liberty to shoot 47.6 percent from the field and keep a 35-27 advantage on the glass.
"We've really only had two scorers and we need another if we want to win," Phoenix coach Sandy Brondello also told the league's official website this week.
While the Mercury look for more offensive support, they could be in for a greater challenge than initially anticipated from the Dream (3-9). Atlanta snapped a four-game losing streak by winning 77-66 at Seattle on Friday for its first victory in five road contest this season.
Tiffany Hayes (12.8 ppg) had 21 points and Brittney Sykes (11.0 ppg) added 11 with eight boards and five assists as the Dream forced 19 Storm turnovers and outscored the reigning league champions 41-25 over the second and third quarters. It was just the second victory in the last 11 games for the Dream, who continue to play without injured star Angel McCoughtry.
Phoenix took two of three from the Dream last season, highlighted by a 104-95 home victory in August. Griner had 33 points, 18 rebounds and blocked seven shots while Taurasi scored 27 with 14 assists and Bonner added 21 points for the Mercury, who have won the last seven meetings between these teams held in Phoenix. Hayes scored 21 in that contest.