Park­ers helps Sparks beat Mer­cury in Game 2

Ripon Bulletin - - Sports -

LONG BEACH (AP) — Los An­ge­les Sparks star Can­dace Parker needed a lot of ice to get her an­kle ready for Thurs­day night.

And yet, it’s the Phoenix Mer­cury at risk of get­ting frozen out.

Parker had 24 points and 13 re­bounds — show­ing no ef­fects of an in­jury — to help Los An­ge­les beat Phoenix 86-72 in Game 2 of a WNBA semi­fi­nal se­ries.

The de­fend­ing cham­pion Sparks have won nine straight games and can sweep the best-of-five se­ries Sun­day in Ari­zona after tak­ing a com­mand­ing 2-0 lead.

Parker, who played a game-high 36:59 min­utes, sus­tained the in­jury in warmups be­fore the Sparks’ Game 1 vic­tory, but she still played in that game and re­turned to her usu­ally dom­i­nant form in Game 2.

“I felt good,” Parker said. “Our train­ing staff did a good job get­ting me ready for this game. A lot of ice. A lot of el­e­va­tion. A lot of treat­ment. I think when we’re able to play in flow and we’re able to re­bound and get stops. Re­bound, run the floor.”

Sims had 21 points and Nneka Og­wu­mike added 18 points and nine re­bounds for Los An­ge­les.

Diana Taurasi led Phoenix with 19 points, and Brit­tney Griner had 16 points. The Mer­cury had 12 of their 18 turnovers in the sec­ond half. Los An­ge­les outscored Phoenix 50-36 in the paint and had 20 sec­ond-chance points.

And then there was the task of try­ing to de­fend Parker.

“Great player,” Griner said of Parker. “She got go­ing quick and heated up. Tried to make some ad­just­ments through­out the game and tried to crowd her a lit­tle bit. It’s hard to help off when I’ve got Nneka right there who can knock down the long 2 or the 3.”

Per­haps Parker’s best con­tri­bu­tion was help­ing dou­ble-team Griner.

“Can­dace was at her best and re­ally com­peted at both ends,” Sparks coach Brian Agler said. “We asked her to guard Brit­tany tonight at times and she took on the chal­lenge and did pretty well.”

The Sparks led by 15 points but let up de­fen­sively late in the third quar­ter when the Mer­cury went on a 13-2 run to pull within four at 61-57 in the fourth quar­ter. The Sparks stalled the come­back when Og­wu­mike made a 3-pointer to end the run.

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