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Lynx pull away from shorthanded Mercury

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Lynx struggled for the first 26 minutes. But then they got rolling.

The Lynx (15-2), facing a depleted Phoenix team, used a big third-quarter run to take control as they beat the Mercury 81-66 on Sunday at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.

The Mercury (11-8) were without center Brittney Griner, the league's leading scorer who is out three to four weeks with knee and ankle injuries, and guard Diana Taurasi, who stayed home in Phoenix to rest. It was the sixth game in 12 days for the Mercury.

Despite missing two All-Stars, Phoenix frustrated the Minnesota offense for most of the first three quarters and led the Lynx 51-49 with 4:46 to go in the third.

But Renee Montgomery scored seven points and Plenette Pierson added five during an 18-0 run by the Lynx that put the game out of reach.

Sylvia Fowles led Minnesota with 18 points, and the Lynx got 33 bench points.

Reserve Yvonne Turner scored a season-high 18 points to lead the Mercury.

Phoenix's Angel Robinson, starting in the middle in place of Griner, had eight points and six rebounds.

Turner provided a spark for the Mercury off the bench in the first half. She made her first four shots, including three from 3-point range, and had 11 points—one shy of her season high—in the first half.

Phoenix shot 58.3 percent from the field in the first half to the Lynx's 34.5 percent, and the Mercury led 42-38 at the break.

Fowles led Minnesota with 11 first-half points.

Both teams started slowly. The Lynx made just 5 of 17 field goals in the first quarter while the Mercury were 1 of 6 from 3-point range and committed four turnovers.

Minnesota went through a 1-for-11 stretch before ending the opening period with six straight points to take a 15-14 lead after one quarter.

Each team has one game remaining before the All-Star break.

Minnesota hosts Dallas on Wednesday, while Phoenix will be back home to face Indiana.