The Los Angeles Sparks met the Phoenix Mercury for the second time in three days at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Friday night, falling 80-66.
The Sparks honored Juneteenth, which is Saturday June 19, with the singing of the Black National Anthem and a youth essay contest.
Although the game ended in a loss, the Sparks had three-players in double figures: Erica Wheeler (17), Bria Holmes (11), and Brittney Sykes (14). In the first half, Erica Wheeler had a milestone night of surpassing 1500 points in her WNBA career. In the first quarter, Bria Holmes had a milestone night of surpassing 250 two-pointers made in her WNBA career.
The Phoenix Mercury got off to a hot start, opening up a 13-3 lead with strong play from Brittney Griner and Skylar Diggins-Smith. Amanda Zahui B. picked up three early fouls and had to sit the remainder of the half. However, the Sparks answered as Kristi Toliver made a driving layup that started a Sparks run. Toliver then scored on a 17-foot two-point shot followed by back-to-back three-pointers from Amanda Zahui B. and Bria Holmes. The Sparks were able to catch up to the Mercury with a 14-4 run to end the quarter tied 17-17.
Sparks Guard Erica Wheeler kicked off the second quarter with a 14-foot step-back jump shot pushing them to a two point lead. However, the Mercury took control of the game by attacking the basket and getting to the foul line, building another 10-point lead late in the quarter. Mercury Forward Megan Walker used her size as an advantage allowing her to score seven points in 12 minutes off the bench. The Mercury kept their momentum, ending the first half with a 44-36 advantage.
The Sparks started off the third quarter with Bria Holmes initiating the offense and nailing a 25-foot three-point jumper. The Sparks cut the Mercury lead to four, but the Mercury continued to get to the free-throw line, scoring 18 points in the third and shooting 80% from the charity stripe. Phoenix went on a 10-4 run after Skylar Diggins-Smith went to the bench after her 4th foul. The quarter ended with the Mercury up, 62-49.
Amanda Zahui B. threw a no-look bounce pass to Brittney Sikes giving her the opportunity for a layup to open the fourth quarter. With just over three minutes left in the 4th quarter, the Mercury built a 14- point lead at 76-62. The Sparks could not mount a comeback as the team continued to play shorthanded without Nneka Ogwumike, Chiney Ogwumike, Jasmine Walker and Maria Vadeeva.
The Mercury had four players in double-digits: Skylar Diggins Smith (21), Brianna Turner (15), Brittney Griner (14), and Megan Walker (10).
The Sparks will face the New York Liberty Sunday at 1 p.m. PT on ESPN. The game will pay homage to the inaugural WNBA game between LA and NY in 1997
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