Following a slow start, the Phoenix Mercury appear to have turned things around - at least for the moment.
The Mercury aim for a third consecutive victory on Tuesday night against the Atlanta Dream at the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.
Opening losses to Los Angeles and Indiana left Phoenix (2-2) in a rather precarious situation inside the "Wubble," especially within the confines of this compacted WNBA season where a premium is essentially placed on every contest.
Of course, any reason for major concern was halted with Friday's 102-95 victory over a solid Las Vegas squad. The Mercury and their supporters took an even deeper breath with Sunday's 96-67 win over short-handed New York.
In the latter, Bria Hartley posted a career-high 27 points and Diana Taurasi added 18 with nine assists. Phoenix led 25-12 after one quarter and put the Liberty, playing without injured star rookie Sabrina Ionescu, away by outscoring them 34-11 in the fourth quarter.
"I'm really happy with that fourth quarter," Mercury coach Sandy Brondello, whose club enters the week averaging a league-leading 93.5 points but also allowing a WNBA-worst 91.8 per contest, told the Arizona Republic.
"That was fun to watch. We have to grind out wins as much as we can with this schedule."
Brondello has also been happy with Hartley, a free agent offseason pickup who averages a team-high 19.8 points while shooting 47.3 percent from the field and 12 of 27 from beyond the 3-point arc. Hartley's performance has been even more impressive considering Phoenix was banking on the "Big 3" of Taurasi (15.5 points per game, 6.0 assists per game), Brittney Griner (16.3 ppg, 7.0 rebounds per game) and Skylar Diggins-Smith (14.5 ppg) to provide most of the team's offensive output.
"Sandy really encouraged me coming into training camp (to) be looking to shoot, be ready," Hartley told the Arizona Republic. "It's really encouraging to hear a coach say that to you. I do think this is my style of basketball."
The Mercury have won four straight over Atlanta (2-2), which is trying to rebound from a 93-77 loss at Indiana on Sunday. Courtney Williams scored a team-high 18 points off the bench for the Dream, who shot almost 48 percent but allowed the Fever to make 51.5 percent of their shots and score 28 points off turnovers.
Atlanta ranks near the bottom of the league allowing an average 91.5 points. Only the Mercury are worse.
"As much as I know this is a process with this team, I'm just frustrated that we're not getting stops," Dream coach Nicki Collen told the club's official website.