Originally posted on Fox Sports Arizona  |  Last updated 9/19/12

NEW YORK - JUNE 23: Collegiate Woman Athlete of the Year, Candace Parker of the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks speaks at the 32nd Annual Collegiate Women's Sports Awards at Columbia University June 23, 2008 in New York City. (Photo by Amy Sussman/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Candace Parker had 26 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists and the Los Angeles Sparks earned a 101-76 victory against the Phoenix Mercury on Tuesday night. The Sparks (23-10) secured second place in the Western Conference to ensure that they will open the first round at home, where they have won nine straight and are 15-1 this season. L.A. concludes the regular season Thursday against first-place Minnesota. Parker had a double-double by the third quarter and had four blocks. Alana Beard scored 22 points, one point shy of her season high, with six steals and Kristi Toliver added 17. The Sparks led wire to wire and by double digits over the final 15 minutes. The Mercury (7-25) dropped their fifth consecutive game. DeWanna Bonner, second in the WNBA with 20.9 points per game, returned from a sore back that kept her out for two games and led Phoenix with 23 points and six rebounds. Candice Dupree made her first appearance since she had left knee surgery on July 24. Dupree, whose 14.8 points per game is second on the Mercury, started and had six points. Phoenix remained without Diana Taurasi, who sat out her fourth straight game, and backcourt mate Samantha Prahalis missed her sixth straight because of a shoulder injury. The Mercury went on a 7-0 run early in the third quarter and pulled to 60-53 on Dupree's 10-foot jumper. The Sparks came right back with a 16-2 run, completed by two free throws and a 3-pointer by Beard. Parker had an impressive sequence late in the second quarter when she made a turnaround jumper after Marissa Coleman rebounded her missed free throw, got a block on the ensuing trip down the floor and scored on another turnaround in the paint for an 18-point lead. Parker then gave the Sparks a big lead with a 3-pointer as L.A. took a 54-40 edge into halftime. Phoenix committed 10 turnovers in the first quarter and 13 in the first half. Bonner scored 19 points in the first half, but the Sparks led by double digits. Los Angeles swept Phoenix for the first time in nine years.
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