|7:00 PM PT8:00 PM MT9:00 PM CT10:00 PM ET2:00 GMT10:00 7:00 PM MST9:00 PM EST6:00 UAE (+1)04:0022:00 ET9:00 PM CTNaN:� , September 14, 2017
Walter Pyramid, Long Beach, California Attendance: 4,023
Parker powers Sparks to 2-0 series lead vs. Mercury
(TSX / STATS) -- Candace Parker scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds to guide the Los Angeles Sparks past the Phoenix Mercury 86-72 in at the Walter Pyramid in Long Beach, Calif., on Thursday.
The Sparks took a commanding 2-0 lead in the teams' best-of-five semifinal series. Game 3 is Sunday in Phoenix.
Los Angeles is looking to become the first team in 15 years to win back-to-back WNBA championships. Phoenix must win on Sunday to continue its season.
The Mercury trailed by 13 points midway through the fourth quarter before making a final run, pulling within 79-72 on Leilani Mitchell's layup with 2:06 to play. Alana Beard, who didn't score until the fourth quarter, hit a key layup on Los Angeles' ensuing possession, and the Sparks salted away the game in the final minutes.
Odyssey Sims added 21 points for the Sparks, while Nneka Ogwumike added 18 and pulled down nine rebounds, and Chelsea Gray scored 15 for Los Angeles, the No. 2 seed in the WNBA playoffs.
Diana Taurasi led the fifth-seeded Mercury with 21 points, 16 of which came in the first half. Brittney Griner added 16 points, five rebounds and three blocks. Mitchell scored 15, and Yvonne Turner scored 10 for Phoenix.
Parker scored 19 points and collected 10 rebounds in the first half alone, and Ogwumike added 10 in just 13 minutes of play as the Sparks led 43-35 at halftime. Los Angeles outshot the Mercury 41.5 percent to 37.5 percent from the floor in the first 20 minutes and enjoyed a 26-15 rebounding advantage.
Phoenix stayed in the game mostly because of Taurasi's 16 first-half points (one fewer than the Mercury's other four starters combined) and a 10-for-13 team showing from the free-throw line.
The Mercury cut Los Angeles' lead to 61-55 at the end of the third quarter as Griner scored eight points in the period. However, the Sparks responded early in the final quarter as Sims scored six points and Gray added a 3-pointer in a decisive stretch that pushed Los Angeles' advantage to 77-64.
Overall, Phoenix shot 47.5 percent and Los Angeles shot 44.6 percent from the floor. The Sparks had a 38-28 rebounding edge.
Updated September 15, 2017