The Phoenix Mercury fell to 4-3 on the season after their 74-68 loss to the Seattle Storm on Saturday afternoon, but the result is the last thing on the mind of anyone with the team. Legendary shooting guard Diana Taurasi hobbled off the floor late in the fourth quarter with an apparent hip injury.
Late on Saturday night, the team did get some good news, as an MRI revealed that there was no structural damage to Taurasi's oblique or lower back. At this time, however, it's still unclear when she'll be able to return to the court.
Driving the ball to the basket, Taurasi collided with Breanna Stewart, and it was immediately obvious something wasn't right. She somehow completed a behind-the-back pass to Brittney Griner, but came up hobbling and grimacing in pain. She left the floor straight away, and after a short conversation with the medical staff on the bench, made her way back to the locker room.
After the game, Mercury coach Sandy Brondello said that it was a muscular issue involving Taurasi's hip.
"She's going to get some imaging. And let's just pray it's not too bad, and she'll be on court again in a few days. Until we know more, we'll stay positive."
"They're not saying it's her back. They're saying it's a muscle. It's not structural, put it that way. So that's good."
It's still too early to speculate on how long Taurasi will be out, but it seems likely she'll miss a few games, especially with teams playing every other day in the condensed season. The fact that this isn't related to her previous back injury, however, is promising.
Taurasi played only six games last season, due in large part to back surgery that she needed to correct a herniated disc, and a subsequent hamstring injury. When she did get on the court, she looked nothing like her usual self, averaging just 4.3 points on a woeful 10.3 percent shooting.
Coming into this season she was 100 percent, and was playing like it as well, putting up 16.9 points, 6.9 assists and 1.9 steals, while shooting 34.8 percent from 3-point land. It remains to be seen how long she'll be sidelined, but if it's for any sort of significant time, that will be bad news for the Mercury.
She's obviously no longer prime Taurasi, but she's still one of their most dangerous scoring threats, and the heart and soul of this team. As much as they'd miss her scoring and passing, they'd miss her leadership and spirit. With only 15 games, and about a month left in the regular season, there's little time for players to recover from any injuries, so hopefully this is more of a day-to-day injury than a weeks-long problem.