The Wings seek optimism ahead of Mercury duel

It wasn’t ideal for the Dallas Wings to be defeated in a home-vs-home series by the Minnesota Lynx, who at least had some good news ahead of them after Thursday night’s 90-81 home loss.

In her first career start, Awak Kuier had 12 points, grabbed a best six rebounds of the season and had a career-high three assists. Kuier likely earned more playing time for Sunday’s trip, which saw her square off against the ailing Phoenix Mercury.

“She did great, didn’t she? I think that was really good for them,” Dallas coach Latricia Trammell said of Kuier. “We knew she had what it took, but to see her step up like she did early in her career and play like she did gives her confidence.”

At the same time, Trammell and the Wings would have preferred the confidence boost to come with a win to match. However, in the last 3:50 they lost 11:3 because they couldn’t think of any decisive stops.

The result dropped Dallas to 18-16, ahead of Minnesota in fourth place in the league. This is important as the top four teams will receive home field advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

Meanwhile, Phoenix (9-24) is heading towards the end of a highly disappointing season with another losing streak in its wake. The Mercury have lost four straight games, including a 91-62 decision Wednesday night in Los Angeles.

It didn’t help Phoenix that it was without its leading scorers Brittney Griner (health/safety protocols) and Diana Taurasi (toe). With 34.5 points per game and a lineup that has struggled to score consistently this year, the Mercury predictably missed, hitting just 40.7 percent of their shots from the field.

“We have to work with who we work with,” said Phoenix caretaker coach Nikki Blue. “We have been here before. We have been here all year.”

The Mercury are bottom in the league on Saturday and 11th by 3-point percentage. They’ve conceded at least 81 points in five straight games.

The Wings have won the teams’ first three meetings this year, including a 77-62 verdict on June 27 in Phoenix.

—Field-level media The Wings seek optimism ahead of Mercury duel

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