Taurasi will stand alone in 9,000-point club for some time

NEW YORK (AP) — It may be a long time before anyone joins Diana Taurasi in the 9,000-point club.

The Phoenix Mercury star became the first WNBA player to score over 9,000 points in a triumphant return from a fractured sternum injury that sidelined her for five weeks. The next closest active player is former teammate Candice Dupree, who is more than 2,000 points behind Taurasi.

All things considered, Taurasi said it was good timing.

She said Sunday after scoring 25 points that it “was nice to do it in front of the home crowd of the first game when we have full capacity and to get it in a win. So, there was a lot of positives of getting it today. And, you know, it’s good.”

More importantly for Taurasi and the Mercury is the hope that they can get on a roll before the Olympic break next month.

The Mercury currently sit in seventh in the AP power poll this week as Las Vegas moved back into the top spot after beating Seattle in overtime on Sunday.

POWER POLL

This week’s WNBA poll:

1. Las Vegas (11-4): A huge overtime win over Seattle kept the Aces in the hunt to be the West representative in the Commissioner’s Cup championship. The Aces trail the Storm by a game in the standings.

2. Seattle (12-4): A tough 0-2 week saw the Storm’s lead in the standings shrink. Breanna Stewart continued her MVP-caliber play, averaging 26 points, 9.5 rebounds and 4 blocks in the losses.

3. Connecticut (10-5): Brionna Jones held down the paint for the Sun with Jonquel Jones playing overseas. The Sun center averaged 23.5 points and seven rebounds to help Connecticut go 2-0 this past week. Jonquel Jones will return for a key matchup against Washington on Tuesday after playing in the EuroBasket tournament.

4. Chicago (9-8): The team’s seven-game winning streak was snapped in Connecticut, but no one has been playing better than Chicago over the last few weeks.

5. Dallas (8-8): The Wings finish up the pre-Olympic break with four of five games at home. Arike Ogunbowale broke out of a mini-scoring slump with a season-high 30 points in Dallas’ last game — a win over Washington.

6. Minnesota (7-7): The Lynx have gone 7-3 since adding Layshia Clarendon to the roster under a hardship exemption. Clarendon is averaging 8.8 points, 5.4 assists and 2.8 rebounds in those 10 games that have included nine starts.

7. Phoenix (7-7): The Mercury host Minnesota for a pair of games this week trying to create separation in the standings with seven teams within a few games of each other.

8. New York (8-8): Betnijah Laney continues to have a stellar season for the Liberty. The free agent signee is averaging 19.9 points while shooting 51.1% from the field. She’s also averaging 5.2 assists.

9. Washington (7-8): The Mystics are finally starting to get healthy. Natasha Cloud (ankle) and Myisha Hines-Allen (knee) could be back as early as Tuesday night. Elena Delle Donne (back) also could return at some point soon.

10. Los Angeles (6-8): The Sparks are in a key stretch if they want to have any hope of staying in the playoff hunt as they play seven of eight at home — spanning the Olympic break before finishing the season with eight of 10 on the road.

11. Atlanta (5-9): The Dream host New York on Tuesday night before heading out for a three-game coast-to-coast road trip that starts in Seattle and ends in Connecticut.

12. Indiana (1-15): The Fever surprisingly released Lauren Cox, who was the No. 3 pick in the 2020 draft. The former Baylor star contracted COVID-19 last year but recovered before going into the WNBA bubble. She as been healthy this season, but was averaging just 1.4 points and 2 rebounds while playing in 11 games.

PLAYER OF THE WEEK:

Sylvia Fowles of Minnesota dominated play las week, averaging 28 points, 16.5 rebounds and 4.5 blocks to help Lynx win both their games. Tina Charles of Washington also received a vote.

VACCINATION STATUS:

The WNBA announced Monday that 99% of the league has been vaccinated and all 12 teams have met the threshold for being fully vaccinated. There have been no positive COVID-19 tests since the start of the regular season.

GAME OF THE WEEK:

Aces at Sparks, Wednesday and Friday. Chelsea Gray returns to Los Angeles for the first time after leaving the Sparks in the offseason as a free agent for Las Vegas. She helped the team win a championship in 2016.

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More AP women’s basketball: https://apnews.com/hub/womens-basketball and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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