A record day from Brittney Griner and a five-game winning streak keep Phoenix the easy choice as the No. 1 team this week.
Week 7 Power Rankings
1. Phoenix (11-3; last week: No. 1)
Phoenix has won seven of its past nine games, including a 2-0 mark on the road last week. Everything is clicking for the Mercury. Sunday, Brittney Griner blocked 11 shots to set a WNBA single-game record, Penny Taylor hit all 10 of her free throws, Diana Taurasi had eight assists and all five starters reached double figures. "We're aggressive and confident in what we're doing," said Taurasi, who ranks fifth in the league with 18.3 points per game. "We're playing with a little more focus."
2. Atlanta (11-4; No. 3)
Last week we hit on Atlanta's balance (four players average double-figure scoring), but dominating the boards is another key to the Dream's success. Atlanta -- which leads the WNBA with 38 rebounds per game -- is plus-4.3 on the glass, and Erika de Souza (9.7 rpg) and Sancho Lyttle (9.0 rpg) rank third and fifth, respectively, among WNBA rebounding leaders. The Dream play their next three games at home, where they are 7-1 this season. Atlanta has won eight of its last nine overall.
3. Minnesota (12-5; No. 2)
The Lynx have more wins than any other team but trail Phoenix by a half game in the Western Conference. Janel McCarville stepped up Sunday, scoring a season-high 22 points as Minnesota took the floor without Seimone Augustus (bursitis in left knee) for just the second time this season. Still, the Lynx have lost five of their last nine games, and coach Cheryl Reeve said they have been bringing their "C-game" in that stretch.
4. Connecticut (8-8; No. 4)
After winning six in a row, the road continues to be the Sun's Achilles heel. Connecticut lost its last two games, both of which were on the road, to drop to 1-6 away from home this season. Keep an eye on Allison Hightower. After missing four games because of a strained knee, the guard returned Friday. She's still well below the career-best numbers she posted in 2013, but it will be interesting to see what sort of impact she makes and how she might change the Sun lineup.
5. San Antonio (8-8; No. 6)
Now that the Stars have fought back to .500, they hit a crucial three-game road swing that includes stops at Connecticut and Minnesota. The Stars are the top 3-point shooting team in the league (39 percent), getting a big boost from Becky Hammon's league-best 53 percent accuracy from downtown.
6. Tulsa (6-9; No. 7)
The Shock are a couple of tough breaks from being .500 and one of those teams whose overall record is misleading. Three of their last four games went to overtime. They've lost their last two games by three points apiece. Skylar Diggins (second in the league with 20.7 ppg) and Odyssey Sims combine to average 33.4 points in the backcourt, while Glory Johnson and Courtney Paris combine for 25.1 points and 20.0 rebounds.
7. Chicago (7-8; No. 8)
The Sky halted their three-game skid with a win at New York on Friday, and now hit the road for a three-game trek out West: at Los Angeles on Tuesday, at Phoenix on Wednesday and at Seattle on Saturday. Things were looking up last Wednesday when Chicago got both Elena Delle Donne and Sylvia Fowles back, but Delle Donne has since left the team again as she continues to battle a recurrence of Lyme disease. With Delle Donne sidelined indefinitely, all eyes are on Fowles, who scored 20 points on 8-of-11 shooting, grabbed 13 rebounds and blocked two shots in her first two games.
8. Los Angeles (6-8; No. 11)
With only three teams above .500, consecutive wins can go a long way toward climbing up the rankings. The Sparks make the biggest jump this week even though the pair of wins were over the other two teams at the bottom of the West standings: Seattle and Tulsa. Still troubling, however, is seeing the Sparks have to rally in overtime Saturday after squandering a 15-point lead. But Los Angeles also played what coach Carol Ross deemed as the team's best game of the season, holding Seattle to a season low in points in a 65-57 victory last Tuesday.
9. Washington (7-10; No. 9)
The Mystics went 2-1 since the last rankings, splitting a home-and-away with San Antonio and beating Connecticut. Emma Meesseman had a breakout week, scoring 42 points (including a career-high 22 on 11-for-14 shooting against the Sun) and grabbing 31 rebounds over the past three games.
10. Seattle (7-11; No. 10)
With Seattle ranking last in offense (71.2 ppg) and rebounds (28.5 rpg), and falling to last place in the West, let's focus on the positive: Sue Bird just became the first player in WNBA history to notch career totals of at least 4,000 points, 2,000 assists and 1,000 rebounds. Said Storm coach Brian Agler: "She's one of the greatest players to ever play in the league."
11. Indiana (6-9; No. 5)
The Fever plummet after dropping four straight games, and coach Lin Dunn says they just aren't doing "the little things" right (but Tamika Catchings is starting to practice, Dunn said). But here's one thing that we think went very right for Indiana last week:
- Indiana Fever (@IndianaFever) June 26, 2014
12. New York (5-11; No. 12)
After ending their five-game losing streak with a big win over Atlanta, Cappie Pondexter's cup was half full, especially with four straight home games on tap. "Hopefully," she said, "this will be the start of a roll for us." So far, the results are mixed: 1-1 ... with Tulsa and Minnesota up next (the Liberty are 0-2 against them so far this season).