Taurasi Named Western Conference Player of the WeekPosted: Updated:
Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi was named the WNBA Western Conference Player of the Week for the week ending June 16, the league announced today. The award is Taurasi's first of the season and the 15th of her career, tying Lisa Leslie for third-most in WNBA history.
Taurasi earns the award after averaging 31.5 points, 7.5 rebounds and 8.0 assists in the Mercury's two wins last week, ranking her first and scoring and assists among all players last week. She also shot 51.4 percent from the field, connected on 9-of-18 three-point attempts and hit 16-of-18 from the free throw line.
On June 14, in just the second home game of the season for Phoenix, Taurasi scored a WNBA season-high 34 points on 11-of-19 shooting and 5-of-9 from three. It was her most points in a game since Sept. 9, 2011 (36 at Seattle), her first 30-point effort of the season and her 35th career 30-point game, extending her WNBA record. She also chipped in seven assists, six rebounds, two steals and two blocks.
Two days later, Taurasi finished just one rebound and one assist shy of her first career triple-double, tallying 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in an overtime win at Tulsa. She is the first person in league history to reach those marks in a single game. It was her fourth consecutive game with at least 20 points, her longest streak since Aug. 2-30, 2011, when she scored 20 or more in nine-straight games, the third-longest streak in WNBA history.
Taurasi scored 21 of her 29 points in the second half and overtime prompting Tulsa Head Coach Gary Kloppenburg to say after the game, "Diana is unbelievable. She lives for those big moments like that. She hit some big daggers that just broke our back. She's something special and she's a great, great competitor."
After starting the season 0-3, Mercury Head Coach Corey Gaines positioned Taurasi as the "lead guard" in the starting lineup and vowed to return to the up-tempo style that helped Phoenix win two WNBA championships. In the new role, Taurasi delivered, leading the club to three-straight wins, its longest win streak since July 1-15, 2011 (six games), and 95.0 points per game. During the win streak, the five-time league scoring champion has averaged 29.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists. She currently leads the league with a 23.0 season scoring average and is on her way to becoming the fifth player all-time to reach the 6,000-point plateau for a career and will likely become the fastest to reach the mark. She currently has 5,673 points through 275 career games played.
The Mercury returns to the court on Wednesday when it hosts the Minnesota Lynx, offenders of Phoenix's last loss which came 11 days ago in Minneapolis. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. at US Airways Center. Tickets are available by calling 602.252-WNBA or visiting phoenixmercury.com.