The Los Angeles Sparks may have seized an 83-74 victory over the Phoenix Mercury, but they are not too proud to point out the errors they made during the matchup.
It was a tale of two halves where the Sparks played a complete game in the first half but hit a level of complacency in the second. This allowed the Mercury to reduce a 23-point lead, coming within two points of the Sparks.
“They were beating us in transition, we were playing catch up the entire time whether they were setting down screens, flare screens, whatever the case may be,” said Sparks guard Chelsea Gray. “We were just playing catch up and then we decided … we got to lock down defensively.”
With the first half of the WNBA regular season complete, the Sparks desire to make improvements.
“You need some adversity during the course of the games and we’re gonna be in this position again at some point, hopefully when it all counts,” said Sparks head coach Derek Fisher. “We’re going to be able to stay together, come up with the stops that we need in order to win.”
Three Sparks players scored 16 points each, center Candace Parker leading all rebounders with 12 boards. All Sparks players that had playing time, except for guard Sydney Wiese, committed at least one steal. This caused Phoenix to give up 21 points from 18 turnovers.
Phoenix guard Diana Taurasi led all scorers with 19 points and forward Brianna Turner made seven rebounds.
The Sparks came in the game hot with a speedy offense and an aggressive defense. Parker scored 11 points in the first quarter alone, giving the Sparks a 14-point lead.
The Mercury made a six-point run early in the second phase but could not thwart the Sparks offensive prowess. Forward Nneka Ogwumike, guard Brittney Sykes, and Gray attacked on both sides of the court as the Mercury missed shots.
After halftime, The Sparks made a six-point run before their offense began to slow down. Phoenix began to find plays. Mercury Center Brittney Griner battled in the paint against Parker, causing her to make fouls. A three pointer from guard Bria Hartley cut down the Mercury deficit to 11 points.
Taurasi found her rhythm in the fourth quarter. She launched four three-pointers to bring the game within two points.
Los Angeles retaliated quickly by forcing turnovers and getting free throws. Parker noted how the Sparks can not have lapses of absent defense.
“It’s a good lesson to learn. I think we turned it back on and we were able to get that lead back,” she said. “When we’re trying to be a consistent team, we got to bring it on the defensive end every night.”
The Sparks will clash against the Atlanta Dream on August 21 at 4:00P.M.