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Harrison has career night as Mercury heats up Lynx

SHARE Harrison has career night as Mercury heats up Lynx

PHOENIX — Lisa Harrison's big night came at just the right time for the Phoenix Mercury.

Harrison, noted mostly for her defense, had a career-high 22 points and a season-high eight rebounds to lead Phoenix over the Minnesota Lynx 64-54 Tuesday night.

"I was ready to play," said Harrison, who guarded Lynx star Katie Smith. "I knew Katie was a great player, one of the leading scorers in the league, an Olympian. I knew I was going to have to guard her, and that was my main focus."

Phoenix coach Cheryl Miller said it was Harrison's best game since joining the Mercury last spring.

"She played a great defensive game and got on the boards. Offensively, she looked for her shot," Miller said.

The Mercury beat the Lynx 2-1 in the season series, taking a 2 1/2-game lead in the race for the final Western Conference playoff spot.

Brandy Reed had 12 points, and Jennifer Gillom and Tonya Edwards had nine each as the Mercury (12-6) won their third straight. Gillom played 31 minutes in her first action since spraining her left ankle July 2 at Houston.

"I was pretty scared at the beginning, but once I made my first move and scored the basket, I forgot all the fear," Gillom said.

Smith, who was 1-for-7 in the first half, scored 19 of her 24 points in the second, but couldn't prevent the Lynx (10-9) from losing their season-high fourth in a row.

"It's very hard to get yourself out of a hole in this league with these kinds of teams that we play day-in, day-out," she said. "You can't wait until you're down by 10 or 15 points to make a run."

Smith, the WNBA's second-leading scorer, hit a 3-pointer 33 seconds into the second half. Midway through the half, she made three straight baskets, one a 3-pointer, and the Lynx closed within 47-43 with 8:50 remaining

FIRE 80, SPARKS 77: At Inglewood, Calif., Sophia Witherspoon scored 29 points and Vanessa Nygaard hit two free throws with 6.5 seconds left as the Portland Fire ended the Los Angeles Sparks' 12-game winning streak, 80-77.

The expansion Fire (6-12), who have won two in a row for the first time this season, took the lead for good with a 15-2 run while Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles' leading scorer and rebounder, was on the bench with five fouls.

The Forum crowd of 4,416 was the lowest in the Sparks' (16-3) four-year history.

The previous low of 4,639 was set June 6, also against Portland.