Brittney Griner scores 11 points in season debut as Mercury beat Lynx

PHOENIX, ARIZONA - JUNE 07: Brittney Griner #42 of the Phoenix Mercury handles the ball against Alanna Smith #8 of the Minnesota Lynx during the first half of the WNBA game at Footprint Center on June 07, 2024 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Brittney Griner’s return helped bring the Mercury back to full strength. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

A fractured toe has so far delayed Brittney Griner’s season debut, but no more.

The Phoenix Mercury star not only played but started Friday against the Minnesota Lynx after missing the first 10 games of the season. Mercury starting guard Bec Allen also returned from a concussion, giving Phoenix its ideal starting lineup for the first time this season.

Facing the West-leading Minnesota Lynx, that lineup came through. Griner had 11 points and four rebounds, but the star of the night was Kahleah Copper, who dropped 34 points on 13-of-23 shooting with six rebounds, two assists, two blocks and two steals.

Three of those points came on a game-winning 3-pointer with 0.7 seconds left that gave Phoenix an 81-80 victory against Minnesota.

Natasha Cloud also had eight points and 10 assists, while Allen scored nine points in her return.

Griner returned to the court after averaging 17.5 points, 6.3 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.6 blocks per game last season, her first after returning from her imprisonment in Russia.

The Mercury went 9-31 that season. They were already on pace to be slightly better with a 4-6 record in Griner’s absence, but a win over the Lynx could mean this team’s ceiling is much higher. Phoenix’s next test will be the 3-6 Dallas Wings on Sunday.

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