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Diana Taurasi’s elbow, multiple technicals mar Mystics-Mercury game

(Kate Frese/NBAE via Getty Images)

The Phoenix Mercury beat the Washington Mystics 80-75 on Thursday night, but not without some extracurricular activities — starting with another controversial play from star Diana Taurasi.

With five minutes to play in the first quarter, Taurasi elbowed Ariel Atkins, who exited the game after hitting the floor hard. Atkins later reentered the game.

The game comes on the heels of another contentious physical play from Taurasi. In the Mercury’s previous game against the Minnesota Lynx, she kicked Sylvia Fowles in the groin with seconds left to play in the team’s double-overtime loss.

While Taurasi was assessed a foul on the Atkins play, there was no such foul assessed on the Fowles play during that game, something Lynx coach Cheryl Reeve discussed on her podcast.

“It’s disappointing behavior from her – not surprising, but disappointing,” she said. “There will be ramifications to that kick. Not ideal.

“I don’t know how you have three officials and there’s no one that sees that egregious of [a play].”

In the aftermath of the game, the WNBA league office has assessed Taurasi a flagrant foul 2 for the kick, Insider reported Friday. Per the league rule book, such a penalty is handed out for “an unsportsmanlike act” and the responsible player will be assessed a fine and/or a suspension.

Later in the first quarter, Phoenix’s Diamond DeShields was injured one play after blocking a Washington shot. She later attempted to come back but was on crutches after the game.

“It’s still up in the air,” DeShields said of the severity of her injury. “I’ll probably find out more tomorrow, but I think it’s okay. It was a bad series of events, but I should be fine.”

In the second quarter, more chaos ensued.

Mercury coach Vanessa Nygaard received a technical foul halfway through the second quarter for arguing with the officials.

A minute later, Sophie Cunningham and Myisha Hines-Allen clashed. Hines-Allen stepped over Cunningham following a 3-point attempt, and then Cunningham responded by grabbing her leg. The two had to be separated, and both received technicals.

After the game, Cunningham attempted to play off the altercation.

“It’s nothing,” Cunningham said. “I mean, if that happened with guys, we wouldn’t even be talking about it. But I thought I got fouled, she stepped over me, so why can’t I be a little feisty and sassy?”

In the fourth quarter, Skylar Diggins-Smith committed a hard foul against Elena Delle Donne. While Delle Donne appeared to tell Diggins-Smith that the play was “fine,” each player received a technical foul of their own, though the fouls were overturned upon review.