Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) – Candace Parker’s layup with 3.4 seconds left lifted the Los Angeles Sparks to a 92-91 win over the Phoenix Mercury.
Parker led the way with 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks for the Sparks, who snapped a three-game skid and won for just the second time in eight games this season.
DeLisha Milton-Jones had 18 points and nine rebounds, and her sparkling defensive play at the end sealed the win. Betty Lennox tallied 16 points, eight boards and six assists, while Kristi Toliver scored 14.
Diana Taurasi tallied a team-best 21 points to go with seven rebounds for the Mercury, who have lost two in a row and four of five. Tangela Smith had 18 points and nine boards.
Phoenix scored 13 in a row to gain its largest lead of the night at 61-50 in the third and the Mercury went to the fourth up 70-65.
Temeka Johnson drained a three-ball for an 89-84 Phoenix lead with 56.6 seconds left, but the visitors wasted the advantage. Toliver converted a three-point play, and a three-ball from Noelle Quinn from the left corner gave LA a 90-89 edge with 18.3 on the clock. Johnson then drove into the lane for a layup to tip the scale in Phoenix’s favor with 8.8 seconds left before Parker drove around Smith and to the basket.
Penny Taylor, who had 17 points and seven assists, then had the ball stripped in the lane by Milton-Jones as time expired.
Diana Taurasi scored 21 points and Tangela Smith added 18 for the Mercury (3-5), who suffered another defeat on Tuesday. This time around, it was to the Los Angeles Sparks, who improved to 2-6 on the season.
Candace Parker scored 22 for the Sparks, including the game-winning layup with 3.4 seconds remaining in the game.
The Not-So-Mighty Mercury (3-4) roll into the Staples Center looking to once again grab a win to stay at .500. Fresh off a serious beat down at the hands of the Seattle Storm, the Mercury should be plenty motivated.
But the Sparks are only 1 and 6 on the season and have already lost twice to the Mercury by a combined grand total of two points. In two games. They are a team transitioning from the Lisa Leslie-era of slow-down, pound it in the post, defensive Michael Cooper basketball to Jen Gillom's attempts to pick up the tempo.
Changes aside, the Sparks still have the best female basketball player on the planet, and Candace Parker does not take kindly to losing. So expect the Sparks to come out fired up and ready to roll. Besides, they must have boatloads of unused confetti just waiting to be dumped on the LA crowd should they manage a win.
The Mercury are obviously still nowhere close to finding their groove, which newcomer Candice Dupree expressed in this quote via WNBA.com, "I don't think everybody is on the same page. We've got to come out and work a lot harder on defense. In order for us to get out and run, you have to get stops and get the rebounds."
Clearly there is some multiple page reading going on in the champ's locker room because Coach Corey Gaines told me just a few days ago that the Mercury's "offense is the best defense" and their issues are on the scoring end of the floor.
Gaines needs to get all of his players pulling in the same direction, and fast. The short WNBA season is already 20 percent over.
Despite their slow start, the Mercury are tied for second place in the West with Nolan Richardson's wacky Tulsa Shock team, who have changed their roster more frequently than my 10-year-old son changes his socks.