PHOENIX, Sept. 12 – A week ago, Connecticut Sun veteran Kara Lawson shared some advice after the Sun had lost to the Phoenix Sun at the Mohegan Sun Arena following a lackluster effort.
“You don’t win in this league and you don’t win in the playoffs if you play out the string,” she said. “You have to be the type of team that is consistently improving and working on things to get better.”
Tuesday night in Phoenix, Lawson backed up her words with a career-high 30 points and tied a career-high with six 3-point goals to lead the Sun to a 100-78 victory over the short-handed Mercury. All-Star Diana Taurasi didn’t play and won’t for the rest of the season as Phoenix dressed only eight players. Taurasi has been slowed by a hip strain all season.
The Sun (22-8) weren’t flush with players either. All-Star center Tina Charles sat out the game to help recover from a nagging hip and groin injury. Sun All-Star Ashja Jones missed her 12th straight game since straining her left Achilles tendon against Washington on July 11 when her foot was accidentally stepped on by Mystics center Michelle Snow.
The win leaves Connecticut 1½ games ahead of Indiana in the race for the Eastern Conference championship. Connecticut will be at Los Angeles (20-10) on Friday night, Sept. 14, for an 11 p.m. start at the Staples Center (CPTV Sports) and conclude the trip with a visit to Seattle (13-16) to face Sue Bird and the Storm on Sunday night, Sept. 16 at 9 p.m.
The Sun trailed by as many as 10 in the first half. Lawson scored 23 of Connecticut’s first 43 points. Lawson made 9-of-17 shots in the game and led the Sun in assists (7) and rebounds (8).
Connecticut seized control in the third quarter. Trailing by two, the Sun went on a 12-0 surge with a pair of three-point goals from Lawson, a three-pointer from Danielle McCray and a rebound and basket from Misty Mims in the paint.
And that gave the Sun the lead for good. Phoenix, with a small bench, missed 16 of 18 shots at one point and couldn’t get any closer than 10 points in the final quarter. Phoenix’s Alexis Hornbuckle was ejected with 4:20 remaining after being called for a flagrant foul when she knocked down Mims going for a rebound.
The Sun, now a sparkling 12-3 on the road, finished with a season-high 100 points and 12 3-point shots. Mims finished with 15 points for the Sun while Kalana Greene scored 14 and McCray added 13. Tam White scored 12 off the bench. For Phoenix, DeWanna Bonner led the Mercury with 24 points.
UPDATE: The Sun game vs. Los Angeles will be available in Connecticut on CPTV Sports, which is found on most cable TV systems in the state except for AT&T Uverse and over the air digitally. It will also be on NBA TV.