LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Candace Parker walked off the court holding her daughter’s hand – who was sporting Parker’s University of Tennessee jersey – following the Sparks 84-74 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Pat Summitt Leadership Night. Parker’s 12 points, 11 rebounds and season-high six assists helped the Sparks win their fourth straight.
The Mercury won the opening tip, but Parker found Nneka Ogwumike inside on their first offensive possession for a layup which ignited a 6-0 run. Los Angeles led 16-7 midway through the first quarter, with Ogwumike already at 10 points in just the first 5:15 of the game. Ogwumike – who hit double-digit scoring for the 18th time this season – stole the ball for a layup after knocking down a right-wing jumper, forcing a Phoenix timeout.
The Sparks’ suffocating defense held the Mercury to 17.6% from the field in the first period. Los Angeles led by as many as 12 points in the quarter, and took a 25-15 lead heading into the second.
Layups by Phoenix’s Brittney Griner and Leilani Mitchell in the second quarter closed the gap to 27-24 after the Sparks gave up a 6-0 run. But a fast-break layup by Marina Mabrey sparked a 10-0 run, which was topped off by a 3-pointer and an and-one by Parker.
Los Angeles shot 50% in the first half, and dished out 12 assists on 16 made field goals. Maria Vadeeva – who registered five points in the first quarter – and Parker combined for six of the 12 dimes. The Sparks headed into the break with a 44-32 advantage.
The Sparks came out of the locker room with another 6-0 run as their lead ballooned to 18. Before the Mercury could cut into the deficit, Sydney Wiese netted her second and third triples of the night. Wiese finished the night a perfect 4-of-4 from the field tying her season high of 12 points.
DeWanna Bonner – who was averaging a league’s fourth-best 18.1 points heading into the night – was held without a field goal in the first half, and did not hit her first until the 4:30 mark in the third. Phoenix trailed Los Angeles 62-48 after three quarters.
In the final period, the two teams exchanged baskets early on before Parker found Marina Mabrey on the wing for a 3-pointer, followed by a backdoor layup on the next offensive possession. The Sparks – who rank third in the league in made 3-pointers – knocked down 10 from beyond the arc on the night.
The Mercury didn’t go away, answering with a 10-0 run to cut their deficit to 80-72. But the Sparks held on to win as Ogwumike finished with 24 points and seven rebounds for her eighth 20-point performance on the season. The Sparks have won 10 of their last 12 games and currently sit just two games back out first place.