PHOENIX (AP) - Candace Parker had 22 points and 14 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Sparks to a 90-71 victory over the Phoenix Mercury for their fourth straight win.
Kristi Tolliver added 19 points and six assists and Nneka Ogwumike had 11 points and 14 rebounds for Los Angeles (14-6). Parker also had four assists and three blocks.
``We know that Phoenix's philosophy is to get out in transition, so I think that once we started playing defense then we were able to kind of beat them at their own game,' Parker said.
The Sparks trail defending champion Minnesota by one game in the Western Conference.
``It was a good team effort,' Sparks coach Carol Ross said. ``It's good for us to get a road win. ... We came off a three-game win streak at home and we wanted to see if we could extend that on the road, so it was good.'
DeWanna Bonner and rookie Sammy Prahalis both had 14 points and seven rebounds to lead the Mercury (4-14). Alexis Gray-Lawson added 13 points and Krystal Thomas scored 11.
Both teams were playing their third games in four days but Los Angeles won all three while the Mercury lost all three. Phoenix, playing again without injured stars Diana Taurasi and Candice Dupree, has lost five straight and seven of nine.
``Both teams were a little sluggish,' Parker said. ``I think we all are very tired. We were able to get some second-chance opportunities and get out in transition. I think that's our strength.'
Mercury coach Corey Gaines didn't want to use the schedule as an excuse.
``Three games in 65 hours I think it was,' he said. ``Sammy's tired, DB was tired, they're all tired. But other teams play the same schedule.'
Phoenix, playing without the injured Penny Taylor all season, has been without Taurasi (strained hip flexor) since May 31st, and has lost 12 of 15 in her absence. Dupree, the team's second-leading scorer through the first nine games, missed her eighth game in the last nine and has played just nine minutes since June 17.
Also, Charde Houston left with a knee injury in the second quarter and finished with five points in a little more than eight minutes.
``That's basketball,' Bonner said. ``The (Olympic) break is coming up, so that'll be good for our team.'
Phoenix made only 31 percent of its shots (25 of 80) and was outrebounded 55-43.
``We were battling in there pretty good all night,' Ross said. ``We weren't able to put up our offensive rebounds and they didn't necessarily convert to points, so that was a little bit of an issue, but I thought both teams rebounded the ball hard.'
Parker scored four points during a key 8-0 run late in the first half to help Los Angeles take a 44-36 lead at the break. Parker and Tolliver each had 3-pointers early in the third quarter as the Sparks opened up a 60-45 lead.
Phoenix didn't get closer than 11 the rest of the way.
The Sparks have beaten the Mercury in all four meetings this season, winning by an average of 14 points.
The Associated Press News Service
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