7:00 PM ET, June 29, 2010
Diana Taurasi and Angel McCoughtry already have hooked up for one high-scoring shootout. Taurasi's health has put the chances of another one in doubt.The Phoenix Mercury hope Taurasi can return from a back injury when they visit McCoughtry and the Eastern Conference-leading Atlanta Dream in a matchup of the WNBA's highest-scoring teams.Taurasi did not play in the fourth quarter after falling hard on her back with 3:53 remaining in the third of Sunday's 95-85 loss at Washington. She was able to walk off the court and returned briefly, but the WNBA's leading scorer said she couldn't run after suffering a bruised back.Her status is considered day to day."I got up in the air and -- I don't really know what happened -- but I landed on my back pretty hard," said Taurasi, who averages 22.9 points.The absence of the reigning league MVP would ruin a showdown between the WNBA's highest-scoring guards. McCoughtry leads the East with a 20.5 scoring average, and both players had huge efforts in Atlanta's 96-93 win in Phoenix on May 28.McCoughtry scored 28 points to nearly match Taurasi's 30. The Mercury superstar, though, missed a potential tying 3-pointer at the buzzer.Phoenix (5-9) averages a WNBA-high 91.8 points and Atlanta (11-4) is second at 85.8.The Mercury have lost five straight on the road after Sunday's loss. They got a poor effort from second-leading scorer Penny Taylor, who was held to seven points and fouled out with 1:33 remaining in the third quarter.Slow starts have been a problem, with Phoenix trailing at halftime in every game of this road skid. The Mercury got within three points early in the second half before falling Sunday."The third quarter we started clicking a little bit, but that's not going to be enough, especially on the road against a pretty good team," Taurasi said.Atlanta rallied from 16 down in the second quarter for an 89-81 home win over Los Angeles on Sunday. The Dream never led until the fourth quarter, crediting a pep talk by coach Marynell Meadors during a timeout for the turnaround."She was very rough," forward Iziane Castro Marques said. "She told us to get pride in what we were doing. They were outhustling us and she said they were playing with more heart. We took it very personal and we were determined to start playing like we should."Castro Marques scored 21 of her 25 points in the second half and McCoughtry added 19 for Atlanta, which has won four of five.Phoenix fell 106-76 in its previous visit to Atlanta last July 30 for the most lopsided loss of its championship season.