After succumbing to one of the best offensive performances the Los Angeles Sparks had all season, the Phoenix Mercury had their vengeance by winning 80-66 on Friday.
Sparks head coach Derek Fisher noted how the Mercury were more aggressive than the Sparks during the matchup. Los Angeles scored only 13 points in the third quarter and shot at 38.3 percent from the field throughout the night.
“[The Mercury] were the team that came out to start the game and brought the force and the intensity and the competitive spirit to the game,” he said. “That’s what happens when you let the other team set that tone first.”
Phoenix guard Skylar Diggins-Smith spearheaded the effort by leading her team with 21 points, she was one of four Mercury players who scored in the double digits. Guard Erica Wheeler led the Sparks with 17 points. Wheeler has a strong knowledge of how Diggins-Smith plays, having competed against her since they were on AAU teams.
“We’re actually good friends, so it’s competitive nature, she’s not gonna back down from me, I’m not gonna back down from her,” Wheeler said. “I think she took it personal who I took it at her last game.”
Forward Bria Holmes was a solid force on both ends of the court with 11 points, five rebounds, and two blocks. Fish noted how it was unfortunate she could not have been rewarded for her effort, but hopes that she remains consistent. Her process of improvement is “a confidence builder.”
“Having confidence in my teammates and coaches as well,” Holmes said. “Just doing the extra stuff and doing the little things to get better each and every game … doing that alone is helping me.”
Guard Brittney Sykes came off the bench with 14 points and five rebounds. Wheeler calls Sykes their “energy boost,” noting her aggression on offense in the contest.
“She’s gonna play hard every night, no matter what,” Wheeler said. “We know that Sykes is gonna crash the board, she’s gonna protect the rim as a guard as well.”
The fouls mounted up early for the Sparks. Center Amanda Zahui B earned three personal fouls in the first quarter and ultimately fouled out. Fisher earned a technical foul, and the team earned a total of 25 fouls. Fisher noted how the team was frustrated mentally and emotionally.
“There wasn’t a burst to what we were doing offensively,” Fisher said. “We didn’t meet the level of energy and force that this game was gonna require.”
The Sparks will battle the New York Liberty on Sunday at 1:00P.M. in the Convention Center.