Diana Taurasi collected one of two double-doubles for the Phoenix Mercury Sunday night as they raced out to a 15-point first quarter lead and lived off it for the game's remainder in an 83-79 decision over the Minnesota Lynx in Bradenton, Fla.
Taurasi scored 23 points while grabbing 12 rebounds and adding four assists as Phoenix (9-7) won its third straight game. Skylar Diggins-Smith chipped in a game-high 25 points, and Brianna Turner bagged 10 points to go along with 15 rebounds.
Crystal Dangerfield scored 20 points to pace Minnesota (10-5) and Napheesa Collier added 13, but the Lynx couldn't overcome a slow start. They made just 40.5%t of their field goal attempts and were outrebounded 41-30.
Still, Minnesota gave itself a legitimate chance at the end. Trailing by 14 points as the fourth quarter started, it chipped away until Odyssey Sims canned a pair of foul shots with 1:27 left to pull it within 77-74.
Dangerfield drove for a layup with 5.9 seconds on the clock to make it an 81-79 game, but Diggins-Smith, who was 11-for-11 at the line, clinched the outcome by sinking two free throws with 5.1 seconds remaining.
Phoenix came out smoking in the first five-plus minutes, opening up a 19-9 lead when Taurasi grabbed the rebound of a Diggins-Smith miss and canned a baseline jumper. Sophie Cunningham finished out the period by nailing a 3-pointer for a 33-18 advantage.
The Mercury pushed the margin to 43-21 at the 7:05 mark of the second quarter as Alanna Smith canned an 18-footer. At that point, the Lynx finally pushed back a bit, slicing the deficit to 51-36 at the half thanks to a Collier jumper as time expired.
Phoenix established another 20-point lead early in the third quarter, but Minnesota climbed back within a dozen before Smith hauled in an offensive board and stuck it back with 18.0 seconds left. That gave the Mercury a 65-51 cushion.