LOS ANGELES -- Phoenix Mercury guard Diana Taurasi became the WNBA career scoring leader Sunday, surpassing Tina Thompson who had held the record since 2010.
Taurasi, 35, in her 13th WNBA season, picked up the final 14 points she needed against the Los Angeles Sparks at Staples Center to move past Thompson, who scored 7,488 points in 17 seasons before retiring after the 2013 season.
Thompson played for Houston, Los Angeles and Seattle during her WNBA career (496 games). Taurasi has been with the Mercury for her entire career (377 games).
Taurasi had just three points in the first quarter, when the Sparks bolted to a 15-0 lead and led 38-17 at the end of the first in the Mercury's worst quarter of the season. Taurasi had three fouls and a technical in the first quarter, sitting out the final 4:36.
Taurasi returned in the second quarter, hitting an early 3-pointer then another with 4:36 left in the second followed by a pull-up at 2:50 and a free throw at 2:26, leaving her two points away from the record.
The record breaker came with 45.3 seconds left in the first half on a driving layup.
"Once I got the basket, it was pretty cool," Taurasi said. "I was trying not to think about it. I wanted it to happen kind of organically, and it did.
"You just start thinking about all the great players you’ve played with, all the games. It was pretty special that I got to do it in front of my family on Father’s Day in LA. So a lot of good things today. I’m just happy and really thankful."
The Mercury will honor Taurasi at their next home game, June 30 against Minnesota, including a bobblehead giveaway to the first 5,000 fans.
"Diana is everything you want in a basketball player and the kind of player who not only defines a franchise, but an entire league for a generation," said Robert Sarver, Mercury managing partner. "We could not be more proud of what she has done for the game, our franchise and the city."
WNBA President Lisa Borders said, "Diana Taurasi is one of the fiercest competitors to ever play the game of basketball. She has shown everyone the kind of heart, determination and talent it takes to be a champion."
The Mercury trailed 53-36 at halftime, with Taurasi helping to cut into a 25-point deficit. The Sparks pushed their lead to 72-48 at the end of the third quarter and won 90-59, improving to 8-3. Phoenix fell to 6-5, suffering its worst loss of the season (10 points was the previous largest losing margin).
The Mercury were missing starting point guard Danielle Robinson (ankle) for a second straight game.
Taurasi, who did not play in the fourth quarter, finished with 19 points and now has 7,494 for her career.
On June 1 in a game at Chicago, Taurasi became the WNBA career 3-point leader.
Taurasi is a five-time WNBA scoring leader and has won 18 major championships including three WNBA titles, four Olympic gold medals and three NCAA crowns at Connecticut. Her career single-game scoring high is 47 points against Houston, including Thompson, in 2006.
"I am excited that it is Diana and it is my absolute pleasure to pass the torch on to her," said Thompson, now an assistant coach at Texas. "She and I have shared so many amazing moments throughout our basketball careers, whether it was gold medals, championships or all-star games. Diana is one of the best players to ever play the game and definitely one of my favorites.
"She has done amazing things and I am so grateful that I’ve been able to share many of those with her. I am really excited for Diana and I think she is going to blow that record out of the water.”
Taurasi grew up in Chino, Calif., near where she set the scoring record. Her parents and former LA Lakers star Kobe Bryant were among those in attendance Sunday.
She went into Sunday averaging 18.2 points, seventh best in the WNBA. Her teammate Brittney Griner is the league scoring leader (24.1 ppg).
The Mercury lost 89-87 at home to the Sparks on June 10 with Taurasi scoring 27 points.
Phoenix is next at Seattle on Friday then home against Minnesota and Washington (July 5).
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