HOUSTON - Rookie Diana Taurasi made sure the Phoenix Mercury didn’t blow a 19-point lead in the second half.
Taurasi had 27 points and Penny Taylor added 17 to lead the Mercury to a 70-60 win over the Houston Comets on Friday night.
The Comets trailed 62-58 with 3:30 left. Taurasi then hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final 2:37 to seal the win. She added 11 rebounds, five assists and made 10-of-20 shots.
‘‘This is a big win because if it comes down to a tie-breaker with the Comets, we’ve got the edge,’’ Taurasi said. ‘‘We have so many people that can step up and hit the big shot and tonight it was me. It was my turn.’’
The Mercury (14-13) have won six of seven after losing five straight games. Fourth-place Phoenix extended its lead to 2 1/2 games over the Comets in the Western Conference.
Sheryl Swoopes scored 18 points and Tina Thompson added 17 for Houston (12-16), losers of two straight after the monthlong Olympic break.
Taylor, Taurasi and Anna DeForge combined for 31 points in the first half, and the Mercury held the Comets to just 25 percent shooting (7-for-28).
‘‘We have so many offensive threats and they have to leave one of us open every now and then,’’ Taylor said. ‘‘There were times when they left me wide open and that is fine by me.’’
The Comets missed their first nine shots before Thompson’s basket 4:29 into the game.
Houston scored six straight points to trail 25-19 on Sheila Lambert’s layup with 3:27 left. Phoenix then went on a 10-0 run behind 3-pointers from DeForge and Taurasi in the final 2:58 to take a 35-19 halftime lead.
‘‘Obviously, I think it would have been a lot easier if we had come out and taken care of business tonight,’’ Swoopes said. ‘‘Unfortunately, we didn’t do that.’’
Earlier Friday, the Comets granted free agency to guard Kedra Holland-Corn.
Storm at Mercury
When: 7 p.m. today
Where: America West Arena
Radio: ESPN (860 AM)
Scouting report: Mercury — With Sacramento heating up, all games are taking on a playoff feeling as the Mercury try to edge the Monarchs for one of the final postseason spots. If Phoenix wants any chance of climbing higher than fourth in the Western Conference it has to take care of the home court, where it plays five of its final seven games. The Mercury are 1-1 with the Storm this year, with each team having won at home. Phoenix had won five of its last six before Friday’s game in Houston.
Storm — They’re trying to overtake the Los Angeles Sparks, who they played Friday, for the No. 1 spot in the West and the entire league. Top players are Olympians Lauren Jackson (who played for Australia) and Sue Bird. Jackson was averaging 20.6 points coming out of the break (including a gaudy 47 percent mark on 3-pointers), while Bird had averages of 11.8 points and 5.3 assists.