Sparks 93, Mercury 84

Associated Press  |  Last updated June 23, 2012
Kristi Toliver scored a career-high 29 points as the Los Angeles Sparks took a big lead early and cruised to a 93-84 win over the Phoenix Mercury on Saturday night. Alana Beard added 18 points and Jantel Lavender 11 points and nine rebounds for the Sparks (10-3), who led by 22 at halftime. Los Angeles has won eight of 10, including three straight after losing back-to-back games last weekend. Rookie Sammy Prahalis scored a season-high 22 points and had five assists and four steals while DeWanna Bonner had 24 points for the Mercury (3-8). Phoenix, which pulled within seven points in the final 2 minutes, has lost four of its last five. Candace Parker, the league's third-leading scorer at 19.8 points a game, did not play for the Sparks due to a sore knee. Phoenix went on a 17-4 run in the fourth quarter to pull to 79-70 with 4:48 left. After the Mercury cut it to seven, Toliver hit two free throws with 36 seconds left to help secure the win. Beard had seven first-quarter points to help Los Angeles get a 20-18 lead after the first. The Sparks scored 18 straight points in the second quarter, taking advantage of poor Phoenix shooting. The Mercury missed 10 straight during one stretch. After tying the score at 20, Phoenix was outscored 29-7 as Los Angeles took a 49-27 lead at the break. Toliver scored 10 points in the second period on 4-of-5 shooting. Phoenix cut the lead to 70-53 late in the third period before April Sykes hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to give the Sparks a 20-point advantage going into the final quarter. Los Angeles has won all three meetings with Phoenix this season, winning by an average of 12 points. Phoenix had just eight players in uniform for the second straight game as second-leading scorer Candice Dupree again sat out with a left knee contusion suffered in Sunday's loss to last-place Tulsa. Backup center Nakia Sanford also was out with the same injury on Saturday and All-Star Diana Taurasi remains sidelined by a strained left hip flexor. Phoenix is 2-5 with Taurasi out of the lineup.
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