Los Angeles Sparks

Sparks defeat Phoenix Mercury to close out the road trip

The Los Angeles Sparks travel home after finishing their four-game road trip after cruising to an 85-68 victory over the Phoenix Mercury. This victory gives the Sparks a solid 3-1 finish to their four-game road trip, which saw them face stiff competition.

Chelsea Gray led the way, once again, for the Sparks in scoring from the start. Despite starting slowly, Los Angeles was able to make some ground behind Gray’s three-point flurry and defensive stops.

Gray dominates again

Gray shot three straight three-pointers and scored 11 points in the first. Her flurry of shots from beyond the arc put the Sparks up 17-13. She added a fourth in the quarter and was a perfect 4-4 from long range. Gray finished the first quarter with 14 of the Sparks’ 20 points.

Gray finished the game with 21 points on 4-6 three-pointers, three rebounds, and nine assists.

The Sparks were able to disrupt Mercury’ offense, even though they ended the frame with a 7-3 run to tie the game at 20. The Sparks held the Mercury to 38.1 percent of shots from the field in the first quarter.

Riquna Williams made back-to-back threes to start the second, which gave the Sparks a one-point lead. Overall, Los Angeles hit 6-10 of their threes in the first half.

Mercury out-rebound the Sparks

For all of their effectiveness on the offensive end, the Sparks were outplayed on the boards. They allowed Brittney Griner to dominate down low in the paint early. Griner had nine of the Mercury’s 20 rebounds in the half to go along with 14 points.

The Mercury out-rebounded the Sparks 20-13 in the first half as the bulk of the Mercury’s rebounds happened offensively to allow for 11 second chance points.

Both teams exchanged baskets throughout the second quarter, as the Sparks held on to a two-point 38-36 lead at the half.

The Sparks opened the second half with four straight points until DeWanna Bonner scored a three-pointer to cut the lead to 42-39. With consecutive shots by Chiney Ogwumike, Los Angeles was able to extend their lead to 46-39 on a nifty no-look pass by Gray to Ogwumike for a layup.

Gray followed that up with a three-pointer to give the Sparks their first double-digit lead of the game 49-39. Then, Griner stuffed a dunk that tried to give the Mercury some much-needed momentum which forced the Sparks to take a timeout as the Sparks were up 49-43.

The Mercury’s energy did not last, however, as the Sparks responded with a 7-2 run over their own. Tierra Ruffin-Pratt hit a three-pointer that extended the lead to 60-47 for the Sparks. The Sparks cruised to a comfortable 12-point lead to close out the third.

Nneka Ogwumike was finally able to get going in the final quarter on the offensive end. Ogwumike had 12 of her 16 points in the final frame.

Ogwumike’s back to back layups put Los Angeles up 68-50, which was their largest lead of the game early in the fourth. Ogwumike finished the game with 16 points, eight rebounds, and three assists.

Marina Mabrey scored five straight points to keep the Sparks ahead.

Los Angeles did not let up on the defensive end of the floor the rest of the way. They held the Mercury to 34.7 percent shooting from the field while extending, which aided in the Sparks expanding their advantage to as much as 20 points.

Ruffin-Pratt reached double figures for a second straight game, finishing with 14 points and six rebounds. Williams added 11 points, two rebounds, and three assists. Meanwhile, Chiney Ogwumike was hit with foul trouble early and finished with just eight points.

Next up

This victory was the Sparks second consecutive and they moved to 4-2 on the season.

The Sparks play the New York Liberty on the latter end of their back to back tonight at 7 p.m. PT.

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