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WNBA: Brittney Griner injured after leading Phoenix Mercury rout against New York Liberty

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Brittney Griner had 26 points and nine rebounds but was injured in the final minutes
Image: Brittney Griner had 26 points and nine rebounds but was injured in the final minutes

The Phoenix Mercury seized control early and survived a late charge to extend their winning streak to five games with a 106-79 rout of the host New York Liberty on Wednesday night.

Star center Brittney Griner collected 26 points and nine rebounds before injuring an ankle in the final minutes.

The seven-time All Star was injured when she defended a shot by New York's DiDi Richards with 1:38 remaining. Richards missed the shot, Griner was hurt while jostling for the rebound and fell on Richards' foot.

After staying down for a few minutes, Griner was helped to the locker room by two teammates.

The 2019 scoring champion's injury marred an otherwise outstanding showing for Phoenix (14-10), which closed out its ninth win in 12 games by scoring the final 17 points over the last four-plus minutes.

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Highlights of the regular-season game between the Phoenix Mercury and the New York Liberty in the WNBA

Griner went 11 of 17 from the field as the Mercury shot 56.6 percent overall. Meanwhile, Phoenix's Skylar Diggins-Smith followed up a superb 25-point performance on Saturday to lead all scorers with 27 after hitting 10 of 16 shots, including 4 of 7 from 3-point range.

Diana Taurasi contributed 21 points and nine assists for the Mercury.

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Betnijah Laney scored 20 points and Richards added 14, but the Liberty (11-15) lost for the fourth time in five games since the Olympic break.

New York shot 37.8 percent overall, missed 23 of 36 3-point attempts and received subpar performances from Rebecca Allen (12 points), Sabrina Ionescu (10) and Natasha Howard (seven), who were a combined 9 of 40 from the field.

Despite this, New York ended the third with an 18-6 run to get within 82-69. They were within 89-79 on a jumper by Laney with 4:43 left in the game before Phoenix surged ahead again.

Diggins-Smith scored 12 and combined with Griner to shoot 8 of 8 from the floor as the Mercury made 15 of 20 shots, including all 13 tries inside the 3-point line and held a 35-19 lead after a blistering start in the opening quarter.

New York scored the first seven points of the second to get within 35-26 on a jumper by Laney with 8:13 remaining.

Phoenix countered by taking a 48-33 lead on Griner's reverse layup with 3:34 left, but Howard's 3-pointer made it 48-38 with 2:30 left before the Mercury held a 55-42 lead at halftime.

The Liberty's defeat allowed the second-place Las Vegas Aces (17-7) to clinch a playoff berth.

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