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Mercury beat Sparks, win playoff opener

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Diana Taurasi scored 30 points and the Phoenix Mercury rallied in the second half to beat the Los Angeles Sparks 86-75 on Thursday night in the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series.

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Candice Dupree added 16 points and DeWanna Bonner had 13 for the Mercury, which snapped the Sparks' six-game home winning streak. Phoenix has dealt the Sparks two of their three losses at Staples Center this season.

Newly crowned WNBA MVP Candace Parker led the Sparks with 28 points, and Lindsey Harding added 16. Nneka Ogwumike had 14 rebounds. The Sparks were 15-2 at home during the regular season, tied for the best mark in the league.

Game 2 in the best-of-3 series is Saturday at Phoenix.

The Mercury were outrebounded 39-27, and it didn't help that rookie Brittney Griner got in early foul trouble. She finished with 10 points, six rebounds and five fouls.

Phoenix pulled away to the game's first double-digit lead in the fourth, helped by six straight points from Dupree. Griner's basket made it 79-69 with less than 2 minutes to go.

The Mercury rallied in the third, turning a five-point deficit into a 65-60 lead going into the fourth. Taurasi, a former league MVP, scored nine points in Phoenix's 18-10 run that gave the Mercury their first lead since the first period.

Kristi Toliver, who averages 14 points, missed her first 10 shots for the Sparks and finished with two points.

The Sparks owned a 23-10 rebounding edge in the first half, when they led 43-38.

Parker scored 12 of her 16 points in the opening quarter, while Griner picked up two early fouls.

The series is a rematch of the 2009 conference finals when Phoenix swept the Sparks on its way to the team's second WNBA title.

Oklahoma City's Derek Fisher spoke to the Sparks before the game, telling them to keep their focus on the team.

Boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr., who won a big fight in Las Vegas last weekend, attended the game.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and Associated Press.
Any commercial use or distribution without the express written
consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

  
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