Phoenix Mercury center Brittney Griner put on a showcase on Wednesday night in a 106-79 win against the New York Liberty, but it came to a concerning halt in the final minutes when she went down with an apparent ankle injury.
The Mercury listed her as questionable for the rematch at Barclays Center on Friday night. Griner is listed with a left lateral ankle sprain.
Griner injures ankle in final minutes of blowout win
Griner appeared to land awkwardly while contesting a shot under the basket with 1:38 remaining and could be heard on the broadcast in clear pain. The reigning Western Conference Player of the Week was helped off the court and put limited weight on her left ankle.
Neither head coach Sandy Brondello nor Diana Taurasi seemed overly concerned in the postgame Zoom call that night.
"She'll be fine. It's a rolled ankle and we got BG's back," Taurasi said. "We'll see how that plays out and turns out tomorrow, but she'll be OK."
Brondello added: "It's too soon now [to know anything]. Fingers crossed that she'll be OK. She's been playing fantastic. She's a resilient little thing. [We] just hope that we'll have a good result."
A left lateral ankle sprain occurs when ligaments on the outside of the ankle are stretched beyond their limits. Griner's ankle appeared to go perpendicular to the court on the replay of the injury. A mild, low-grade ankle sprain takes about one to three weeks to fully heal while a moderate one could take a month.
The Mercury have not given a timetable or addressed the extent of the injury. Phoenix is on a five-game winning streak and sits fifth in the standings. The Liberty (11-15) are on a three-game losing streak.
Griner's dunk, packed stat line vs. Liberty
Griner is having an MVP-caliber season that continued into a crucial game for playoff standing. She scored 26 points and had nine rebounds and six assists.
Late in the first quarter with the Liberty transition defense asleep, Griner slipped by everyone and threw down her third dunk of the season.
— Yahoo Sports NBA (@YahooSportsNBA) August 25, 2021
It's the 15th dunk of her career. The rest of the WNBA has combined for three dunks total in its 25-year history.
Griner, 30, is averaging 20.7 points per game, second in the league, 9.8 rebounds per game (fourth) and two blocks (first). She's second in field goal percentage (57.9%) and first in efficiency rating (26.2). The veteran is the only player in the league to rank top five in each category, per Mercury communications. She also leads the league in win shares (4.9).
Bet MGM lists Griner's odds at +5000 to win MVP, which are the fifth-best odds. Jonquel Jones of the Connecticut Sun remains the favorite at -165.
Mercury Big 3 showing out late
The long-heralded Mercury Big 3 looked at its best against the Liberty, who came within 10 points in the fourth. Phoenix answered with a 17-0 run to shut it down.
Taurasi, Griner and guard Skylar Diggins-Smith combined for 74 of the team's 106 points. Taurasi had 21 points and a team-high nine assists. Diggins-Smith led all Mercury scorers with 27 points on 10-for-16 shooting (70.9%). Brianna Turner added 10 points and 15 rebounds.
The Liberty, playing without 3-point shooter Sami Whitcomb, were led by Betnijah Laney's 20 points, eight rebounds and five assists. Sabrina Ionescu had 10 points, five rebounds and seven assists. Rookie Didi Richards scored a career-high 14 by hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers.
Where do WNBA playoffs stand?
The two will meet again Friday night at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The Mercury are one game behind No. 4 Minnesota Lynx; the top four teams earn a first-round bye in the playoffs that begin Sept. 23.
The Liberty are attempting to hold on to a playoff spot. They're currently seventh and tied with the Wings and Sparks at eight games behind the No. 1 Connecticut Sun. The Washington Mystics, with former two-time MVP Elena Delle Donne back, are a half-game back of the trio.