Mercury star Brittney Griner exits loss early with hip injury

M.A. Voepel, ESPN.comJun 13, 2023, 11:41 PM ET

CloseM.A. Voepel covers the WNBA, women’s college basketball, and other college sports for espnW. Voepel began covering women’s basketball in 1984, and has been with ESPN since 1996.

Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner missed the second half of Tuesday’s 83-69 loss to the Seattle Storm because of what the team said was a hip injury. It was a rough night overall for the Mercury, as guard Diana Taurasi went scoreless for just the fifth time in her 19-season WNBA career.

Griner played nine minutes in the first half and had two points on 1-of-5 shooting with two rebounds. She has played in every game this season for Phoenix after missing last season when she was detained in Russia. Afterward, the Mercury did not have an update on Griner’s condition, although she did return to the bench before the game ended and seemed in good spirits.

“Still have to wait to get the evaluation on that,” Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard said. “I didn’t really see an exact play [where Griner was injured.]”

Griner was coming off a season-high 29 points in the Mercury’s 85-82 win against the Indiana Fever on Sunday. She entered Tuesday’s game at Footprint Center in Phoenix averaging 22.7 points and 7.1 rebounds and shooting 64.8% from the field.

It was just the second victory of the season for the Storm, who outrebounded the Mercury 38-32.

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“Without having BG in there, that hurts our rebounding,” Nygaard said.

Phoenix fell to 2-6 and 1-3 at home. Taurasi had scored in double figures in all seven previous games this season, including 18 points Sunday on her 41st birthday. She entered Tuesday averaging 17.4 PPG this season.

But then Taurasi went 0-of-6 from the field and didn’t take a free throw in going scoreless for the fifth time in 511 regular-season games. Taurasi, who began her WNBA career in 2004, has scored in all 71 playoff games in which she has appeared.

Guard Sophie Cunningham, who led Phoenix with 21 points, said she felt the officiating was subpar regarding Taurasi.

“I’ll have D’s back; I think she’s getting screwed on a lot of calls,” Cunningham said. “I’m probably going to get fined. It’s honestly embarrassing. Call it fairly. I think she’s put in enough time, enough blood, enough sweat and tears that you’ve got to give her a little bit of respect. Right now, if I was a ref, I’d be pretty embarrassed.”

Nygaard added, “Yeah, there’s just enough clips we’ve put together from the same game, similar cut. The calls — D doesn’t get them. It’s just tough right now. She gets frustrated.”

The Mercury had three consecutive games on the road last Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. The team also dealt with an incident Saturday at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport where a social media personality harassed Griner.

The Mercury had just this one game Tuesday at home before their next two at Washington and New York this weekend.

“I’m ready to catch a rhythm with our team,” Cunningham said. “Enough is enough. Our vibe has got to change, our energy has got to change. It’s hard when you don’t have [BG] in the game, you can’t predict her getting hurt. But you’ve got to show up, keep working hard. Eventually things will turn around.”

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