PHOENIX – There's a race brewing in the Western Conference.
Phoenix held the Minnesota Lynx to 10 points in the fourth quarter to pull away for a 73-66 victory on Friday night at the US Airways Arena. The win left the Mercury (14-7) only one game behind the Lynx (15-6), who lost two games in a row for the first time this season.
Minnesota lost by 22 points at Los Angeles on Tuesday after a bad fourth quarter.
"It's the two best teams in the league, so I'm expecting nothing but a dogfight, which is what we saw," Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve said.
DeWanna Bonner and Marta Xargay Casademont led the Mercury to its fifth consecutive victory with 15 points apiece while 6-8 center Brittney Griner had 13 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks.
Bonner made her first seven free throws to set the WNBA single-season record with 59 in a row before missing two in the third quarter.
Griner, in her third season, became the Mercury's all-time career blocks leader with 274, surpassing Diana Taurasi by three.
Maya Moore, who had a string of 11 consecutive 20-point games ended in L.A., had 17 points for the Lynx, but Sylvia Fowles (11) was the only other player in double figures.
And the visitors missed their first six shots of the fourth quarter — the home team has won nine in a row, counting playoffs, in this rivalry. Asjha Jones finally ended the 4½-minute drought for the Lynx with a turnaround jumper to cut Phoenix's lead to 64-58.
Two baskets by Lindsay Whalen and another by Jones got the Lynx within two, 66-64, with 2:46 left. Jones scored again to make it 68-66 with 2:12 left, but the Lynx missed their final five shots.
Griner blocked Whalen's fast-break layup with 1:20 left and raced back for a layup to put Phoenix up 70-66.
"Big play in transition where they hunted Whalen down and big block from Griner," Reeve said. "[It] just kind of gave them momentum.
"We just couldn't come up with the plays."