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West-leading Mercury pull away from Sky

CHICAGO -- When the Phoenix Mercury needed a final push to overtake the Chicago Sky, the call was easy for coach Corey Gaines.

He told his players to get the ball to Diana Taurasi.

Taurasi scored 27 points and led a late charge that carried the Mercury to a 106-99 victory on Tuesday night.

"I just called her number," Gaines said. "She came out and shot it. We do it all the time."

Taurasi hit two 3-pointers in a 50-second span during the final two minutes as the Western Conference leaders (18-8) pulled away after a seesaw fourth quarter.

"That's the way we play," Taurasi said. "We try to put up a lot of points. We put that style of play on to the other team. We did a good job of moving the ball around and getting a lot of good looks for people."

Shyra Ely scored a career-high 26 points starting in place of injured center Sylvia Fowles, but Chicago (13-13) lost for only the third time in 13 tries on its home court. Kristi Toliver added 22 points.

"We lost it on the defensive end in the last few seconds of the game," Ely said. "We weren't able to defend the 3 and they shot wide-open 3-pointers. It was a breakdown for us mentally.

"They have great players -- they're Olympians and they're All-Stars -- and they finish well."

Cappie Pondexter had 23 points for Phoenix, followed by DeWanna Bonner (14), Penny Taylor (13) and Tangela Smith (10).

Taurasi scored 10 points in the opening quarter as Phoenix claimed a 27-20 lead. Toliver jump-started Chicago early in the second quarter with 10 points in five minutes. Ely, making only her third start of the season, added seven points as the Sky grabbed a lead midway through the period on the way to a 48-46 halftime edge.

Chicago never trailed in the third, but Phoenix tied it at 67 on a pair of free throws by Nicole Ohlde with 1:54 left. The Sky replied with five points from Toliver and K.B. Sharp's bucket to take a 74-69 lead by quarter's end.

Fowles, Chicago's leading rebounder, was sidelined by a sprained ankle. She joined Mercury stars Taurasi and Pondexter among eight players chosen on Tuesday to the 2009-2012 USA Basketball Women's national team.