Jewell Loyd scores 24 and Ezi Magbegor adds 17 to help Storm beat Mercury 81-71

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JUNE 24: Jewell Loyd #24 of the Seattle Storm reacts after her basket against the Phoenix Mercury during the first quarter at Climate Pledge Arena on June 24, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

Jewell Loyd scored 24 points, Ezi Magbegor added 17 points and the Seattle Storm nearly blew a 16-point halftime lead before they pulled away for an 81-71 win Sunday over the Phoenix Mercury.

Magbegor made 8 of 13 from the field, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked three shots. Kia Nurse scored 10 points on 4-of-8 shooting, including two 3-pointers, and Mercedes Russell added 10 rebounds and eight points for the Storm.

Seattle (9-21) has won back-to-back games for just the second time this season, and three of its last four — beginning with a 97-91 win over Phoenix on Aug. 5. The Storm and Mercury are three games out of a playoff spot with a month left in the regular season.

Phoenix (9-21), which was coming off back-to-back wins, has lost eight of its last 11.

Seattle led by 16 at halftime and Magbegor made it 57-44 with 5:59 left in the third quarter but Sug Sutton answered with a 3-pointer, Sophie Cunningham also hit a 3 and Moriah Jefferson made a layup before her pull-up jumper capped a 13-0 run with 2:13 to go before the fourth. The Mercury went scoreless for more than four minutes and Seattle scored 16 of the next 18 points to take control for good.

Cunningham led the Mercury with 25 points, including four 3-pointers, Jefferson scored 14 and Brittney Griner added 12 points and 10 rebounds — her second consecutive double-double and seventh of the season. Diana Taurasi scored just five points on 2-of-10 shooting but had seven assists, five rebounds, a steal and a block.