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Taurasi honors Kobe, scores 34, Mercury beat Mystics 88-87

BRADENTON, Fla. — Diana Taurasi hit seven 3-pointers and finished 34 points — both season highs — to help the Phoenix Mercury beat the Washington Mystics 88-87 on Sunday night.

Taurasi honored former Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant by wearing a No. 8 Bryant jersey on what would’ve been the five-time NBA champion’s 42nd birthday. Bryant died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26.

She made 8 of 15 from the field and 11 of 13 from the free-throw line.

Phoenix was without six-time All-Star center and two-time WNBA defensive player of the year Brittney Griner — the team’s leader in scoring (17.7 points per game), rebounding (7.5) and blocks (1.8) — for the second consecutive game. The Mercury announced Saturday that Griner had left the WNBA Bubble at IMG Academy for personal reasons.

Kia Vaughn had 16 points, Bria Hartley scored 11 and Skylar Diggins-Smith 10 for Phoenix (7-7). Brianna Turner added nine points and a career-high 17 rebounds.

Tianna Hawkins led the Mystics with 19 points and Ariel Atkins scored 18. Myisha Hines-Allen had 10 points, a career-high tying 13 rebounds and a career-best eight assists.

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