Sparks guard Jasmine Thomas (15) surpassed 3,500 career points while battling the Phoenix Mercury on August 23, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

The Los Angeles Sparks defeated the undermanned Phoenix Mercury 91-62. This extends the Sparks’ winning streak to five; they are currently ranked eighth in the league.

“So really proud of our team’s focus, intensity and our execution,” said Sparks head coach Curt Miller. “Our defense set the tone again and they have in this stretch, four straight quarters of under 20 points for them to keep them to 62.”

Center Azurá Stevens led the Sparks with 20 points, nine rebounds, and three blocks. Mercury guard Sophie Cunningham made 16 points and center Megan Gustafson made eight rebounds.

Karlie Samuelson led all scorers at the end of the first quarter with eight points, not missing a shot. She ultimately scored a career-high of 15 points.

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The Sparks shot at 54 percent from the field and 58.8 percent from the three-point line. Samuelson noted what she learned about shooting during the matchup.

Sparks guard Karlie Samuelson (44) defends Mercury guard Sophie Cunningham (9) (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“Seeing people scoring in their spots,” Samuelson said. “A feel-good game offensively to see different people score different ways.”

The Sparks slowed the Phoenix offense down, forcing them to make three shot-clock violations in the first half. The squad committed eight steals and five blocks as well as gain a 14-point benefit from the Mercury’s 16 turnovers.

“We watch a lot of film, so we’re really prepared for every game and I think we’re just seeing the fruits of that now,” Stevens said. “We want to win and it takes defense to win. We know we have to score but we know we have to also defend the other team.”

The Sparks’ hung their hat on defense throughout their winning streak. Miller attributes their effort to the high levels of film the team watches.

Sparks guard Jordan Canada (21) scored 11 points and seven assists against the Phoenix Mercury on August 23, 2023 (Amanda Scurlock/L.A. Sentinel)

“We probably watch the most film in the league and it’s monotonous, it’s film every single day … and they’re mastering that monotony,” Miller said. “I think they’re enjoying our aggressive, dictating, disrupting style.”

Guard Jasmine Thomas contributed nine points off the bench, surpassing 3,500 career points.

“I’ve coached her all eight years in my head coaching career with the pros,” Miller said. “It just shows the kind of career that she has had in this league … her perseverance after an iron woman of this league, one of the few that had played without injuries to just continue to keep battling back from her knee injury last year.”

The Sparks will battle the Atlanta Dream on Friday, August 25 at 5:00P.M.