When the Mercury traveled to Los Angeles for what is traditionally a Western Conference battle it revealed two teams on different paths.
Outside of a 10-9 lead in the first quarter this game was about as lopsided as any game this season for the Mercury. Behind a steady dose of No. 1 pick Nneka Ogwumikes' 25 points and 12 rebounds, both of which were career highs, the Mercury struggled to stay in the game.
The length of the Sparks really bothered the Mercury out on the perimeter. Samantha Prahalis didn't struggle with turnovers in sheer numbers, but the zone forced her into bad decisions and broke up any chance at a flow on offense. The move to the zone allowed the Sparks to crowd DeWanna Bonner who had been on a tear as the Western Conference Player of the Week as of late.
Bonner finished with 18 points and 6 rebounds. Her hot shooting in the third quarter was nearly enough to bring the Mercury back.
She spoke about the Sparks clear advantages tonight, "We actually just tried to stop them inside. They are big and aggressive. They are just a big team."
It was Ogwumikes scoring on second chance points and as well as in transition in the late third and early fourth that put the final nail in the Mercury's coffin. The Mercury (2-5) lost in a route to the Sparks (6-1) 90-74.
Coach Corey Gaines after the game, "We need to try to be in the game and play as hard as we can to get some wins."
The Mercury are in a unique situation this season, not only because of the loss of Penny Taylor and the recent slump without Diana Taurasi. It is a particularly unique because the team is too talented to be the worst team in the league despite the shortcomings. With Candice Dupree, Bonner, and Prahalis the team is good enough, but not good enough.
For this team they have to answer some questions about who they are: Where is the shooting going to come from? Can they win with defense this year? And, most importantly, what is the identity of the team sans two All-Stars?
Now the team has a week to prepare for the currently undefeated Minnesota Lynx on the road on Friday, June 15th.