PHOENIX  — Tina Charles had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Skylar Diggins-Smith added 19 points and six assists, and the Phoenix Mercury beat the Seattle Storm 97-77 on Wednesday night in the first of a home-and-home set this week.

Seattle was without star Breanna Stewart due to health and safety protocols, and Phoenix was missing center Brittney Griner, who is being detained in Russia.

Charles scored seven straight points to cap Phoenix’s 10-0 run for a 54-39 lead midway through the third quarter. Both teams scored 32 points in the frame after Charles sank a 3-pointer with 0.8 seconds left. Phoenix outscored Seattle 26-14 in the fourth.

Phoenix (1-1) plays at Seattle (1-2) on Saturday. After that, there will be one more chance to see Sue Bird and Diana Taurasi play against each other in the regular season.

Taurasi made four 3-pointers and scored 15 points for Phoenix.

DREAM 77, SPARKS 75

COLLEGE PARK, Ga. (AP) —- Rookie Rhyne Howard scored 21 points, including five of Atlanta’s 13 3-pointers, and the Dream held off the Los Angeles Sparks 77-75 on Wednesday night.

Howard made a 3-pointer in the corner with 3:07 left in the fourth quarter for a seven-point lead, but Atlanta did not score again. The No. 1 pick in the draft was called for a charge with 16.3 seconds left for Atlanta’s third straight possession with a turnover.

After a timeout, Los Angeles had two chances in the closing seconds, but Chiney Ogwumike missed a contested layup in the paint and Nneka Ogwumike was off on a jumper at the buzzer.

Howard also grabbed eight rebounds. Megan Walker added 11 points, and Kristy Wallace and Cheyenne Parker each had 10 points for Atlanta (2-0).

Jordin Canada scored 19 points for Los Angeles (2-1).

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